GOSSE, Philip Henry Letters from Alabama (U.S.) chiefly relating to natural history. Morgan and Chase. 1859.
8vo. Original pebbled green cloth, gilt lettering to spine, white endpapers (variant unrecorded in Freeman & Wertheimer); pp. xii + 306 + [2, ads.], text illustrations throughout by Gosse and Whymper; slight chipping to head and foot of spine, presentation inscription to front pastedown, very good, internally very clean indeed.
First edition. The book had been offered to the S.P.C.K. in 1854, who referred it to the editor of the Home Friend magazine. It was published here, anonymously and in serial form, in 1855. This is the first appearance of the work under Gosse's name and in book form, although there is one record of a pre-production review copy that came out with the title Natural History of America.
The work is the result of Gosse's eight-month stay in Alabama in 1838. He worked as a teacher for Reuben Saffold at the Belvoir plantation and developed strong views against slavery, which he expresses fully in this book. He assembled the unpublished Entomologia Alabamensis, much of which was later reworked for Letters from Alabama which is probably the first separate study of the natural history of this state. As Freeman and Wertheimer note, 'The book, one of his most charming, is almost gay in places', thus reflecting the curiosity and vigour of the young man seeking adventure and knowledge so far from home.
Freeman & Wertheimer 105.