London: David Nutt, 1890-92. 8vo. 4 volumes, set. First editions. Extra-illustrated with 384 portraits and plates. List of extra illustrations tipped in to the front of volume 1. Original maroon buckram with black leather labels to the spines, gilt. Spines faded and covers rubbed and marked. Some offsetting from the plates. Item #4453
James Howell (c. 1594-1666) was the first writer to earn his living solely from writing in the English language. He was also the first writer of an epistolary novel. The first edition of the Epistolae for 130 years aimed to bring this man of letters, praised by Scott and Thackeray, to a wider audience. Most of the letters were written during his time in the Fleet prison. The fourth edition of 1678 was published by Thomas Guy and the profits went to founding Guy's Hospital in London. The text is considerably enhanced in this set by the addition of so many engraved portraits of those mentioned.
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