A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, by Henry David Thoreau, Boston, Ticknor & Fields, 1862. First edition, second issue. Very good condition (see condition notes below).
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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was Thoreau's first book, published at his own expense in 1849 in an edition of only 1,000 copies. Thoreau gave away 75 copies but by 1853 only 219 more copies had sold; the remaining 706 copies (450 of which were still in sheets) were shipped to Thoreau by the publisher, prompting his famous October 28, 1853 journal entry, "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself”
Thoreau stored the books in the attic of "The Yellow House", his family's home on Main Street in Concord, where he lived after his two years, two days, and two months at Walden. By the time of his death in 1862, Thoreau had sold or given away only another 111 copies.
Ticknor and Fields bought the remaining 450 sets of sheets and 145 bound copies, and re-issued the 450 copies with a cancelled title page carrying their own imprint, but forgot to remove the ad leaf at the end announcing that Walden (1854) would "soon be published."
Copies of "A Week On The Concord and Merrimack Rivers" that spent time in Thoreau's attic sometimes contain his various pencil markings in the text. He corrected copies over a period of years, and not all copies carry the same corrections. While it cannot be absolutely confirmed, this copy has three corrections in pencil that have been attributed to Thoreau. These include a common correction at page 139 changing "experience" to "expediency," and also contains a paragrpah division mark in the text on page 43, and a correction of the spelling of a Greek word on page 69. This book does not contain the more commonly found correction at page 120, nor the rarely found added lines at page 396. Thoreau's own copy of the book contained over 1,000 corrections.
This first edition, second issue is in its original slate green cloth binding with gilt writing on the spine. The gilt is dull and there is foxing on the first several interior pages and some faint stains, including a water mark along the bottom of many pages. Overall, the book is in tight condition with only mild rubbing. A prior owner's name, George A. Purdue, is in black ink on the front flyleaf. There are pencil marks (presumably not Thoreau's) in the margins on approximately seven pages.
This book is beautifully protected in a fine-condition green half morocco slip-case.
As has often been noted, whoever owns a copy of this issue owns a copy once carried by Henry David Thoreau and stored in his personal library.
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