WONDERFUL STORIES FOR CHILDREN. By Hans Christian Anderson. Translated from the Danish by Mary Howitt.
London: Chapman and Hall, 1846. [iv], 127pp. Four full-page hand-coloured lithographic plates. Rebound in half calf, gilt over marbled boards. Small octavo. First edition; first issue, with Andersen's name misspelt on the title. Some water-staining to top outer edge of frontis’ and title; some minor damage to corners and edges; but overall a very good copy. Tipped-in between the blank and frontispiece is a presentation slip inscribed: ‘To W. Jerdan Esq. A tribute of friendship and attachment from the author.’ William Jerdan was editor of the Literary Gazette and a fervent admirer of Andersen’s work. It was he, who in November 1846, wrote to Andersen urging him to come to England, and it was Jerdan who did much to introduce him to members of the literary establishment. Andersen duly arrived in June 1847 to find himself already an established celebrity. This work was originally issued in cloth. The above copy, when purchased by us, had been rebound in the 19th century in half calf, but was in a wretched condition, the binding in pieces and water-damaged. We have attempted to recreate that leather binding, even to the extent of repeating the misspelling of Andersen’s surname. Whilst we are confident that the presentation slip is in Andersen’s hand, we cannot be absolutely certain that it belongs with the book. Despite being tipped into the copy when purchased by us, there is always the possibility that it could have been added to the book sometime later than the year of publication. However, the correction to the spelling of Jerdan’s name does indicate a lack of familiarity with Jerdan by Andersen and suggest that this slip may well have been presented with the book at the time of their first meeting in 1847. Wonderful Stories was the first collection of Andersen’s fairy tales to be translated into English and heralded the beginning of his enormous popularity with children in the United Kingdom.