The Prince of Abissinia. A Tale ...

London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley ... and W. Johnston ... 1759.

2 vols., small 8vo., pp. viii, 159, [1], and viii, 165, [1], bound without the terminal blank; original polished sheep, morocco lettering pieces, spines numbered direct, neat restoration to head and tail of spines but a fine, very pleasing set.


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First edition of Johnson’s only novel, written in the evenings of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral. Its rapid execution is said to have been due to the fact that he had been pondering its chief topics all his life. It soon became his most popular work. Although now inevitably called ‘Rasselas’ after the name of the hero, that title was not used in the author’s lifetime except for the first American edition (1768).

In this copy A2 in volume II is in second state, headed ‘CONTENTS / OF THE / SECOND VOLUME’ to match the corresponding leaf in volume I; in the earlier state it was headed ‘CONTENTS / VOL. II’.

Fleeman, I, 785-8; Courtney & Nichol Smith, p. 87; Chapman & Hazen, pp. 142-3; Rothschild 1242; Liebert 73.

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