London: Bickers & Son, 1883-1884. Limited to 750 numbered copies (this copy being No. 497), signed by the publishers. Nineteen octavo volumes (8 1/2 x 5 9/16 inches; 216 x 143 mm.). Early twentieth-century three-quarter turquoise polished calf, ruled in blind, over marbled boards by Tout & Sons for Estes & Lauriat of Boston (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper). Spines with five raised bands and two red morocco gilt lettering labels, top edge gilt, others uncut, marbled endpapers. Minor rubbing to extremities, spines very slightly and uniformly faded. Engraved frontispiece portrait and one additional plate in Volume I. A near fine set.
Works by one of literature’s key satirists. Swift was in his late 30s and already had a career as a priest when his first satires, A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books, were published. The former caused quite a sensation – many people thought that Swift was attacking religion itself, as opposed to its more negative aspects – but it would also make Swift a household name. Swift served for a time in politics before eventually taking up a Church position in Ireland. Though he considered himself like “a rat in a hole,” he started to publish many of his most famous works, including A Modest Proposal and, of course, Gulliver’s Travels. Here, his works are drawn together, with commentary and a biography by one of the period's leading historical novelists. (Item #3791)