Tales of the Wild and Wonderful
London: Hurst, Robinson & Co., 1825. First edition. 8vo, x, [ii], 356 pp, lacking the half title. Bound in half red morocco, gilt and blind-tooled spine by Philip Dusel.
First edition of this anonymously published 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 Dodds, with the help of Mary Shelley, became Walter Sholto Douglas, and adopted 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, where Douglas planned a career in diplomacy.
Douglas struggled with poverty and disease, including a liver disease, and he probably died c. 1829-30, after spending time in a debtor’s prison. The shifting identities of Dods, Lyndsay and 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. See also Geraldine Friedman's insightful essay "Pseudonymity, Passing, and Queer Biography: The Case of Mary Diana Dods."
Boards faintly rubbed, and some minor darkening and faint spotting to edges of text block. Some faint tidemarking to dedication page, and a some faint staining to two pages in the text, though otherwise bright and clean within. Slight outward bow to boards. Very good. Item #30157