ROBINSON, Mary. Hubert de Sevrac, a Romance of the Eighteenth Century. (1796 - FIRST EDITION)

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TITLE: Hubert de Sevrac, a Romance of the Eighteenth Century.

PUBLISHER: London: for the Author by Hookham and Carpenter, 1796.

DESCRIPTION: FIRST EDITION. 3 vols., 6-13/16" x 4-7/16", errata at the end of each vol., advertisement leaf at the end of vol. 3, vol. 2 M6 with early repaired tear at foot, without the half-titles, bound in fine contemporary full speckled calf, floral gilt decorated spines, gilt lettered red and green spine labels, covers ruled in gilt.

CONDITION: Internally clean and bright, armorial bookplate of Sir John Eden to front pastedowns, extremely minor foxing to first and last leaves, inner and outer hinges fine, head and foot of spines fine, A HANDSOM SET.

ADDITIONAL INFORAMTION: An exceedingly rare gothic novel by Robinson (known as "the English Sappho") set during the French Revolution. In her lifetime Robinson was better known as an actress and lady of fashion as well as for a string of prominent affairs, including with George IV whilst he was still Prince of Wales whose portrait she wore encrusted with diamonds throughout her life but who she did not hesitate to blackmail for £5000 pounds when he cast her off. Her literary output, though derided at the time, has since been reassessed and Robinson herself now seen as a proto-feminist.

Mary Robinson was one of those independent 'viragos' who upset so many conventional men at the end of the eighteenth century. She was admired by Mary Wollstonecraft, Godwin, and Coleridge, and her poems and novels found a wide readership among all classes despite her notoriety. Mathias classified her together with those ‘ingenious ladies’ through whose novels young women were sometimes ‘tainted with democracy’. Her novel Hubert de Sevrac shows a greater political awareness than most, and is set in the present, during the beginning of the reign of Terror in France. Some of her Gothic trappings were borrowed from Radcliffe and Lewis, and were in turn borrowed by Coleridge (for his poem ‘Christabel’).

So how rare? OCLC locates 14 copies in institutions. Eleven in the U.S., 2 in Canada, and only 1 in the UK. RBH locates only 1 copy ever appearing at auction in 1970. ABPC does not locate any copy. In our 40 years in the trade we have never come across another copy.