The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)

(Item #5110) The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition). Oscar Wilde.
The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)
The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)
The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)
The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)
The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)
A charming copy of Wilde's ironic commentary on courtship and marriage
The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious Peoply by the Author of Lady Windermere's Fan (Signed First Edition)

London: Leonard Smithers & Co, 1899. First edition. First edition, first impression, number 74 of 1,000 copies, additionally signed "Oscar Wilde" with ownership inscription "Spencer Grey, from" added in Egerton Spencer Grey's hand. Early 20th-century half green morocco for Hatchards, spine lettered in gilt, green cloth sides, marbled green endpapers, top edge gilt, original covers and spine bound in at end. Bookplate of C. W. Clementine, dated 1901, on front free pastedown. Spine faded, one corner slightly rubbed, some spotting and browning, a very good and attractive copy.

The barrister Egerton Spencer Grey (1863-1950) was Assistant Official Receiver at the Bankruptcy Court, Carey Street, when Wilde was bankrupted in 1895. (In De Profundis, Wilde movingly recalls Robert Ross's kindness in doffing his hat to him amid the thronged corridors of Carey Street.) Grey had been promoted to Official Receiver in Bankruptcy by the time Wilde's estate was discharged from bankruptcy in July 1906 and had some correspondence with Wilde's publishers at that time. The catalogue of manuscripts and letters of Oscar Wilde and his literary circle held in the Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library (University of California) lists, for example, a copy of an indenture made on 3 January 1906 between Grey and Methuen. Under the circumstances, it is unlikely that Wilde presented this copy to Grey. More probable is that Grey obtained a previously signed copy from Wilde's chattels, either at the time of the bankruptcy or at its discharge, and added his own name as if he were its recipient. It is touching that Grey seems anxious to record his association with Wilde. The book, as presented in the original publisher's binding, does not include a preliminary blank. The present copy, bound by Hatchards, has two preliminary blanks on two different stocks of paper. The blank with Wilde's signature matches the paper of the text with chain lines running horizontally. It is assumed, therefore, that Wilde originally signed the front free endpaper of the book as originally issued. We have previously sold a copy of An Ideal Husband in which Grey also added his name as the recipient above Wilde's signature.

Mason 381.
(Item #5110)

Price: $35,500

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