The Heart of Hyacinth
New York and London: Harper and Brothers, 1903.
New York and London: Harper and Brothers, 1903. First edition. Original pictorial publisher's cloth binding brightly stamped in gilt, white, and green. Top edge brightly gilt. Pictorial endpapers. Measuring 203 x 135mm and complete in 251 pages. Illustrated throughout. A truly Fine copy inside and out, having been protected by its original publisher's box (in VG+ condition with some splitting and staining but retaining its delicate paper label to the lid). Provenance from the Ellen K. Morris and Edward S. Levin Collection of Publishers' Bindings.
"Born to a Chinese mother and English father in Montreal, Canada in 1875, Winnifred Eaton" was among the earliest novelists of Asian descent to publish work in North America (Asian Diaspora). Surrounded by anti-Chinese racism, as an adult she took a Japanese nom de plume, capitalizing on white ignorance about Asian heritage to reinvent herself and engage with a culture that was more widely accepted in the U.S. and Canada at the turn of the century. Arriving in New York in 1901 "with literary ambitions, journalism experience, and her first manuscript novel," Onoto Watanna almost immediately became a sensation; "her popular Japanese-themed romance novels thrust her into glittering world of New York's literati" (Birchall). Sensational on the surface and certainly participating in the popular japonisme of the period, Onoto Watanna's work speaks to a much more complex and painful relationship to race and identity. In The Heart of Hyacinth, the titular character faces a crisis of identity when her birth father returns to reclaim her from her adopted Japanese family and she discovers that she is white; rejected by her fiance, Hyacinth must decide what culture, what family, and what race defines her and will shape her future. Fine in Very Good + dust jacket. (Item #5808)