Uncle Silas

A Tale Of Bartram-Haugh

LE FANU, J. Sheridan


LE FANU, J. Sheridan Uncle Silas A Tale Of Bartram-Haugh

Richard Bentley, 1864.

First edition. Three volumes. 8vo. Original plum morocco grained cloth lettered in gilt to the spine and with triple ruled border and arabesques in blind to the covers. Half-titles present. Author's presentation copy, inscribed to his sister-in-law on the half title of volume one, "To Henrietta Le Fanu from The Author December 1864". Each volume rebacked with the original spines laid down and small losses to the original cloth from head of the spines of vols II and III. Corners bumped and a crease to the front board of vol III. Internally hinges repaired and some occasional spotting throughout, mainly light but with heavier staining to the C1-C7 of vol II, a small hole to the margin of C7 and a marginal chip to M3 of vol III.

The first edition of Le Fanu's most famous work and the first to gain the author widespread success. Its success is partly because it was, of its time, sui generis: it can be rightly viewed as a gothic novel, detective fiction, and supernatural thriller without strictly conforming to any of these genres. It is also an early example of what has become known as the 'locked room mystery'.
Elizabeth Bowen notes in 1947, "Uncle Silas was in advance of, not behind its time: it is not the last belated Gothic romance but the first (or among the first) of the psychological thrillers."
Its reception was instant and warm and its influence long lasting, with Bram Stoker, Conan Doyle and M. R. James all acknowledging the influence of Le Fanu's work on their own. James famously commenting, "[He] succeeds in inspiring a mysterious terror better than any other writer... I do not think that there are better ghost stories anywhere than the best of Le Fanu's."
Published in an edition of just 500 copies, the first edition has always been rare in commerce, exceptionally so in the original cloth. Only two copies appear to have been sold at auction in the last 70 years. This is the only inscribed copy we can trace.

Henrietta Le Fanu (inscribed from the author), by family descent to William Le Fanu (1904-1995, the original recipient's grandson), lent for exhibition in 1951 for the Festival of Britain (exhibition label on front endpaper of vol. I). Sold in his sale in 2003 £15,275 (c.$25,000).

Stock ID: 44162


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