WATER BABIES; A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby

Price: 3,950.00 USD

(London: Macmillan and Company, 1863), SCARCE FIRST EDITION IN A WONDERFUL BINDING BY BAYNTUN OF BATH. Kingsley's WATER BABIES was extremely popular and remained a mainstay of English children's literature for many decades. Kingsley wrote the work as part satire in support for Darwin's 'Origin of Species', which Kingsley had been one of the earliest public figures to praise. Within the tale Kingsley alludes to debates among biologists of its day, satirizing and at various times referring to Sir Roderick Murchison, Professor Richard Owen, Professor Thomas Henry Huxley, and of course, "Mr. Darwin" They, and the science of the period become explicitly part of the story. The story is also thematically concerned with Christian redemption, and Kingsley also used the book to argue that England treated its poor badly, and to question child labour. Unfortunate common prejudices of its day, particularly in reference to Americans, Jews, blacks, Catholics and the Irish, have led to the story's fall from popularity. First edition, without the L'Envoi leaf as is almost always encountered as the author had it removed from all but the first 200 or so copies. With two full page plates by J. Noel Paton and with a number of small illustrations used throughout as opening initials. 8vo, in a very fine and very handsome Bayntun of Bath binding of full navy crushed morocco, the covers decorated with handsome all-over geometric gilt framework tooling, the spine with gilt tooled raised bands separating compartments with matching geometric gilt decorations, two compartments gilt lettered, wide gilt decorated turn-ins and marbled endpapers, a.e.g., The publisher's original green cloth preserved and bound in the rear, the upper piece with central gilt Water Baby vignette, the spine piece gilt lettered. Also retained is the original half-title. Now all in preserved in a blue cloth slipcase with chemise. 350 pp. A very beautiful and very handsome copy, the text wonderfully bright and clean for this title, the fine binding pristine and perfect.

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