CERVANTES SAAVEDRA, MIQUEL DE [Shelton, Thomas--trans.] The History of Don-Quichote. The first parte.
and The Second Part of the History of the valorous and witty Knight-Errant, Don Quixote of the Mancha. The first part London: [William Stansby for] Ed.[ward] Blount, ; the second London: printed [Eliot's Court Press, probably George Purslowe), 1620. The first complete edition, comprising the second edition of the first part, and the first edition of the second. Two volumes, full brown crushed morocco gilt (unsigned), all edges gilt; housed in a clamshell case with leather spine. 7 x 6 1/8 inches (17.5 x 13 cm); [-1]^(1) [the engraved title], [para]^(4) [para 1, the first blank leaf lacking as usual], A-Oo^(8), 300 ff. in all; the second volume lacking the unsigned engraved title, A-Ii^(8) [A1 the printed title], v. blank, Kk^(4) (lacking the terminal blank Kk4), 259 ff. in all. Some minor fading to the bindings, both volumes rather closely trimmed, some cropping affecting a few signatures, catchwords, and printed marginal notes, occasional minor stains and soiling though in all a rather clean set, pen trials on the margin of pp. 504-505 in the first volume and on the blank portion of the recto of the final leaf of the second. As noted above, without the engraved title in the second volume and the blanks noted above (typically missing). Early (late 17th century?) title-page inscription in each volume of Chas. Cocks, and the bookplates of Isabel Somerset of Reigate Priory.
A rare work, this was the first time the complete text of Don Quixote had been made available in English. The first edition of the first part was issued in 1612, and long went unrecognized. The publisher Blount, cognizant of the earlier edition, appears to have printed fewer copies of the first part of his edition; Pforzheimer notes that many more copies of the second volume are extant than of the first. As the 1612 edition is almost unobtainable, this is now arguably the earliest obtainable English edition.
Isabel Somerset, the owner of this copy, was the wife of Lord Henry Somerset, the second son of the Duke of Beaufort, and an altogether redoubtable figure. Her husband, some years after their wedding, became infatuated with a seventeen-year-old boy. As a result, she sought to have the marriage annulled, which led to her social ostracization. Later, she became the President of the British Women's Temperance Association, founding a colony for inebriate women at Duxhurst near her Reigate home. If she tilted at windmills, she appears to have done so rather successfully! Grolier Langland to Wither 213; Pforzheimer 140; ESTC S107641, S107642.
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