331. [Schreiner (Olive)] "Ralph Iron". The Story of an African Farm, 2 vol., first edition, ink ownership inscription of Edwin Whelpton to endpaper, some light finger-soiling to margins, hinges cracked but firm, vol.2 hinges repaired and with adhesion marks from removal of library label to pastedown, original pictorial cloth, spines darkened, spine ends and corners bumped, slight discolouration to vol.1 upper cover from removal of library label, vol.2 upper cover a little cockled, a little rubbed and bumped at extremities, but overall a good set, preserved in custom drop-back box, [Not in Sadleir; Wolff 6211 (lists only yellow cloth)], 8vo, 1883.
Edwin Whelpton (1849-1925), minor Lincolnshire decorator and author.
est. £2000 – £3000
The author's pseudonymous first book. An important feminist novel, containing perhaps the first 'New Woman' in British fiction. Originally titled Thorn Kloof, and later Lyndall, it depicts much of the author's South African experience in the late 1870s. Schreiner brought the manuscript with her to England in March 1881 and began soon after her attempts to get the novel published. It was finally accepted by Chapman and Hall, acting on the advice of their 'reader', George Meredith. Issued in January 1883, The Story of an African Farm caused a sensation in the literary world, with the result that much of the edition was read to pieces by patrons of the circulating libraries. The number of copies printed is not known, but based on the face that Schreiner received only £18 2s. 11d. it was probably no more that 300. Copies of the book are therefore extremely uncommon; survivors in the original binding, in any condition, are rare.