First edition, first state of Twain's allegorical adventure of 16th-century England, aimed at elevating his literary reputation before HUCKLEBERRY FINN finally secured it.
"It is such a book as I would expect from you, knowing what a bottom of fury there is to your fun..." – William Dean Howells on PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Playing on the theme of living a day of opposites (a tradition centuries old in holidays like Saturnalia), THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER uses the plot of switching roles in order to bring to light legal injustices based on inequity – but with a characteristically Twain touch of humor and adventure. Twain put up extra money to make it a lavish production, in part because his wife hoped this book would establish his critical reputation, "even if the elegance of it eats up the publisher's profits and mine too" (Twain to his sister, quoted in Powers). This is technically the first American edition, as Twain issued authorized editions in London and Montreal a few days in advance so as to counteract piracies. According to biographer Ron Powers, the book was so well received that some reviewers were, in fact, startled that Twain had written it.
Read more: Blanck, Bibliography of American Literature (BAL), 3402; MacDonnell, "The Prince and the Pauper," Firsts Magazine, July-August 1998; Powers, Mark Twain: A Life.
Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1882. 8.25'' x 6.5''. Original green pictorial cloth elaborately stamped in gilt and black (rosette on spine 1/8 inch below fillet). Illustrated throughout with wood engravings. Franklin Press imprint on copyright page; "do not" on page 263; "reigned" on page 362. 411,  pages. 1882 "private library" bookplate, with ink scribbles from same period, on front pastedown. Some wear to edges of boards, particularly at spine foot. A couple instances of light staining to text, else clean. Hinges sound.
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