First issue, a beautiful copy of the elaborate pictorial cloth binding, with a laid-in 3-page autograph letter by Burnett stating "one's books are purely impersonal."
LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
"[W]orth a cartload of the rubbish which often goes under the name of juvenile literature."<br />(The Eclectic Review of Foreign Literature, 1886)
The first of Burnett's three immortal children's novels, LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY was eclipsed in popularity by later generations' preferences for THE SECRET GARDEN and A LITTLE PRINCESS, but was a monumental, career-defining success in its own day. FAUNTLEROY was a cultural phenomenon inspiring fads in children's fashions, to the great distress of some hapless boys who failed to appreciate their velvet suits and lace collars when they had them. John Nicholas Beffel's 1927 remembrance of "The Fauntleroy Plague" still simmers with the indignation of a generation of boys forced, temporarily, to bear a few of the restrictions of girls: a beautiful outfit was a "straitjacket" in which "one could not conceivably romp and play". Anti-Fauntlerovian protest was an unabashedly gendered enterprise: no "self-respecting boy likes to be spoken of as beautiful," and those who were were met with "the epithet 'girl-boy'". The novel's extreme popularity thus went hand in hand with an extraordinary anxiety among boys asked to perform the traditional feminine virtues of beauty, sweetness, and purity; this very request, so popular with mothers and hated by sons, lies beneath the veneer of Victorian sentimentality usually blamed for FAUNTLEROY's fall from popular favor: a quietly radical undermining of the masculine ideal.
The enclosed three-page letter mentions Burnett's "new house...in Portland Place"; Burnett rented this London house in 1893 and lived there for five years before moving to Maytham Hall in Kent, famously the site of THE SECRET GARDEN's composition. A belated response to a literary inquiry, the letter concludes: "I daresay you know that I have the greatest objection to interviews which are of a personal nature but one's books are purely impersonal."
Read more: Silvey, Children's Books and Their Creators, 106; Blanck, Peter Parley to Penrod, 80-81; Beffel, "The Fauntleroy Plague" in The Bookman April 1927.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1886. 8.25'' x 6.5''. Original slate blue pictorial cloth stamped in gilt, red, and black. Brown coated endpapers. Illustrated by Birch in black and white throughout. "14" printed on lower left margin of page 209; Devinne Press seal on page . Publisher's ads at rear. xii, 210,  pages. Ink gift inscription dated 1887 on second fly leaf. Autograph letter signed by Burnett laid in, one sheet with printed address "Massachusetts Avenue 1770," folded in half (7.75'' x 4.75''), with writing filling three of the pages.
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