HARDY, Thomas (author). H. MACBETH-RAEBURN (etching by). The Well-Beloved, A Sketch of a Temperament. London; Osgood, McIlvaine and Co. 1897.
Large 8vo. Finely bound in rich full tan morocco, spine with 5 raised bands finely and decoratively ruled in compartments and lettered, and dated, direct in gilt, with double panels to sides in triple-line gilt fillet, with decorative cornerpieces, top edges gilt, others untrimmed, decorative gilt dentelles and marbled endpapers, by Birdsall of Northampton; pp. [iv], [v]-viii + [ii] + 337 + [i], with original cloth covers laid down and bound in to rear; illustrated with a frontsipiece etching by H. Macbeth-Raeburn and a map of Wessex; a very nearly fine, and remarkably handsome, copy with just a touch of rubbing to joints and edges, internally uninscribed, and fresh, save offsetting from gilt dentelles to edges of free endpapers.
First edition in book form of this classic Hardy novel, issued as volume XVII in the Wessex Novels series. This, Hardy's penultimate novel, first appeared as a three-part serial entitled The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved in The Illustrated London News, in 1892. It was revised here for book publication. Its setting, like with so many of Hardy's works, is Dorset, in this case the Isle of Portland, termed the Isle of Slingers in the novel. Its plot concerns a man obsessed with the pursuit of his ideal woman, while sculpting the perfect figure of Aphrodite.