Sixteen Letters from Oscar Wilde - 1930
SIXTEEN LETTERS FROM OSCAR WILDE. Edited and with Notes by John Rothenstein. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1930. First Edition. Limited Edition. Personally owned by famed playwright Eugene O’Neill.
A lovely First Edition copy of this scarce and fascinating book. Irish author Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was known mainly for his plays, such as The Importance of Being Earnest and for his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. This book is in a Limited Edition of 515 copies of which 500 were for sale.
The most notable element of this book is the bookplate on the front inside cover with the printed signed inscription “Carlotta, Eugene O’Neill“. This book was owned by the famous playwright/author and his third wife Carlotta, evidenced by his personal bookplate inside the front cover. Published 80 years ago, this slim volume, just 39 pages, is now long out of print and quite scarce, but it is made much more valuable as a fascinating association copy—a book by one of the greatest British playwrights of his era and owned by one of the greatest American playwrights of the next era. From the Editor:
The sixteen letters that follow are all that remain of a series written by Oscar Wilde to William Rothenstein between 1891 and 1900.
They are now published, for the first time, in deference to the often-expressed wishes of several of the writer’s surviving friends. One of them, number VIII, I remember hearing M. André Gide describe as the most important unpublished Wilde letter he knew of. Wilde possessed to a singular degree the power of endowing everything he touched, however lightly, with something of his own personality. Even such things as envelopes bear, at times, the impress of his fancy. So here the form of address, where the envelope still exists, is printed beneath the appropriate letter.
To the letters which the writer left undated, the actual or approximate dates have been added, in brackets.
Finally, I should like to record my gratitude to Mr. Max Beerbohm for his very kind permission to reproduce in this book two hitherto unpublished caricatures.
Contents include 16 Letters written from:
Paris 1891; Bad-Homburg 1892; Oxford 1893; London 1893; London 1894; Worthing 1894; Paris 1894; 3 from Berneval-sur-Mer 1897; 2 from Dieppe 1897; Berneval sur-Mer 1897; La Roche-Guyon 1897; 2 from Paris, 1898 and 1899.