London: James Cochrane and Co., 1831. First Thus. First appearance of the illustrations by George Cruikshank. Bound by Zaehnsdorf ca. 1910 (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-ins). Full teal blue crushed levant morocco, covers triple-ruled in gilt with decorative gilt corner fleurons. Spines with five raised bands, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt-ruled board edges, elaborate gilt turn-ins, marbled paste-downs and endleaves, top edge gilt, others uncut. With the decorative gilt Zaehnsdorf 'exhibition' stamp on rear paste-downs. Minimal uniform sunning to spines, still a fine set. Collating[iii]- xxiii, [i, blank], 454; [iv], 448 with etched portrait of Fielding after Hogarth, and eight etched plates by George Cruikshank. One plate a little darkened in margins, otherwise a very clean example.
First published in 1749, Tom Jones is widely considered both one of the best comic novels in English history and Fielding's masterpiece. Specifically, it tells the story of Tom Jones, an orphan born out of wedlock, who is subsequently raised by the respectable Squire Allworthy. Notably, Tom's sexual promiscuity and strident behavior caused scandal among the novel's readers, but nonetheless, it gained acclaim largely due to the effectiveness with which Fielding captured mid-18th century English society. (Item #3592)