Philadelphia: David McKay Company, n.d. Early edition. Original straight-grained blue cloth (5 5/8 inches tall), marbled endpapers, clear glassine wrapper, original patterned paper slipcase with printed label. Book fine, glassine creased, slight abrasion to printed label, minor edge-wear to slipcase. A handsome, near-fine copy. Item #749
"EACH MAN KILLS THE THING HE LOVES" Early American printing of the Ballad of Reading Gaol, a handsome pocket edition, complete with the original slipcase. Oscar Wilde was convicted of indecency and sentenced to prison in May 1895. The two years in prison spurred a final burst of creativity and Wilde's last years yielded his two most autobiographical works—De Profundis and the Ballad of Reading Gaol. "Wilde's imprisonment, like that of Verlaine's, was a personal blessing in the effect it had on his subsequent life and upon his art. During his incarceration he wrote the series of letters to Lord Alfred Douglas called De Profundis in which one catches glimpses of a sincerity heretofore entirely lacking in his work" (Calvert Alexander). After his release Wilde left Great Britain, never to return, and wrote the Ballad of Reading Gaol under the pseudonym 'C.3.3.,' his prison number. "This remains his single claim to serious recognition as a poet" (Alexander). In November of 1900, after years of fascination with the mysteries and rituals of the Roman Church, Wilde finally converted on his Paris deathbed and died a Catholic. With Wilde's original Dedication: "In Memoriam / C.T.W. / Sometime Trooper of the Royal Horse Guards / Obiit H. M, Prison, Reading, Berkshire / July 7th, 1896," a reference to Charles Thomas Wooldridge. Convicted of murdering his wife, Wooldridge was sentenced to death and executed in Reading. First published in 1898, this early edition is undated but was part of "The Pocket Classics," the publisher's series of fine reprints, each in an "Artcraft" binding and housed in a patterned paper slipcase with a printed label. Calvert Alexander. The Catholic Literary Revival.