A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1862. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding stamped in blind with gilt to spine. Spine lightly sunned, with trivial rubbing to ends; else tight, square and bright. Yellow endpapers. Two early bookplates to front pastedown; ownership signature to front endpaper. Else internally clean and unmarked. The scarce second issue of the author's first book, originally published in 1849, with 1862-dated title page tipped in. One of 706 remaindered copies that Thoreau himself stored in his bedroom after its printing; the present is one of the 450 copies that was bound with a new title inserted in place of the 1849 original. An important and exceptional rarity, housed in a custom silk slipcase.
The author paid to publish 1000 copies of the book in 1849, but sales were slow so he took the remaining 700 copies back from the publisher and kept them in his library, prompting his ironic remark, "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself." The publisher purchased the remaining copies in 1862 and reissued the original sheets with a new title page. These reissued copies are quite scarce to market each one having been in the author’s personal library.
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers recounts the trip that Henry David took with his brother John in 1839. After John's sudden death at age 27, Henry David began working on a tribute to his brother. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers uses this trip and their relationship as the narrative's core, but the work itself moves much more broadly to discuss the changing landscape and many other topics, such as theology and ecology, that would become his bread and butter in a burgeoning writing career. Near Fine (Item #3438)