London: William Heinemann, 1896. SIGNED FIRST EDITION. Two Volumes. Octavo. Publisher's light blue cloth. Light edgewear and scuffing, bumping to spine and some very light rubbing to extremities. Some darkening to the spine but essentially clean, strong and tight. Shows extremely well. Internally clean and fresh, front inner hinge cracked to gutter. Ink ownership to front pastedowns of both volumes. A very handsome set, printed in a run of only 600 copies, scarce by any account and especially so in this condition. Even more interesting is the fact that this copy is inscribed by James to the half title of volume 1 to a 'Mrs. Hill' in the year of publication. Jane Dalzell Hill (nee Finlay) was the daughter of the owner of the Northern Whig newspaper and the wife of the editor, Frank Harrison Hill, of the London Daily News. A journalist and prolific correspondent of such arts luminaries as Henry Irving, Mrs Hill was a literary critic for the Daily News and The Saturday Review. She made the acquaintance of Henry James in 1877 having just composed a review of his 'Daisy Miller', saving her most severe approbation for 'An International Episode'. Interestingly James wrote a long and detailed letter to Mrs. Hill defending his creation and responding to various points presented in her review. This letter (found in Henry James: A Life in Letters) is the only known example of James responding to a critic. James and Mrs. Hill continued to correspond and indeed became friends. A few other examples of James' work inscribed to Mrs. Hill exist amongst the darkened stacks of the rare book world, but this is a particularly handsome example. 'Henry James, O.M. (April 15, 1843(1843-04-15) – February 28, 1916) was a U.S.-born British author. James is one of the key figures of 19th century literary realism. The son of theologian Henry James, Sr., brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James, he spent much of his life in England and became a British subject shortly before his death. He is primarily known for a series of major novels in which he portrayed the encounter of America with Europe. His plots centered on personal relationships, the proper exercise of power in such relationships, and other moral questions. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allowed him to explore the phenomena of consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting.'. Item #40416
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