Tales of the Wild and Wonderful. Walter Sholto Douglas, Mary Diana Dods, David Lyndsay.
Tales of the Wild and Wonderful

Tales of the Wild and Wonderful

London: Hurst, Robinson & Co., 1825. First edition. 8vo, x, [2], 356 pp. Marbled paper over boards backed in calf, with 6 gilt-ruled panels to spine, blind-stamped florets and title stamped in gilt on a black morocco label. 

First edition of this remarkable collection of Gothic tales written by a gender non-conforming author who was aided by Mary Shelley in the construction of his identity and the publication of this work. Born Mary Diana Dods, the illegitimate child of a Scottish aristocrat, Dods achieved some literary success publishing under the name David Lyndsay. At some point she constructed another identity, Walter Sholto Douglas, in which capacity she also played the role of husband to Isabella Robinson, and father to Robinson’s illegitimate child. In 1827 Mary Shelley helped the pair attain false passports under these names, and the couple lived in France.

Douglas struggled with poverty and disease, including a liver disease, and probably died c. 1829-30, after spending time in a debtor’s prison. The ambiguity and remarkable gender performances of Dods/Lyndsay/Douglas are an ongoing subject of ongoing fascination for critics, much of which is built on Betty T. Bennett’s landmark research published in Mary Diana Dods: a Gentleman and a Scholar.

Some rubbing to extremities of boards, which are lightly bowed. Marbled paper lifting from the boards in several places; endpapers heavily foxed, but interior relatively clear and bright. A portion of one signature protrudes slightly from the text block, but the binding is sound. Very good. Item #28598