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    Sale 2514 | Lot 29
    Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000
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    • Sale 2514 Lot 29

      OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900)


      The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.

      4to, original vellum with gilt lettering and decorative motifs, slight but natural discoloration, minor rubbing, repairs to joints and rear outer tip; recased with endpapers renewed; later custom green cloth chemise and slipcase. London: Leonard Smithers and Co., 1899.

      Estimate $50,000 - 70,000


      extra-limited first edition of wilde's celebrated play; number 12 of only 12 copies bound in vellum, signed by wilde,
      and printed on Japanese vellum. There was also a regular edition of a thousand copies, and one hundred copies on Dutch handmade paper. The Importance of Being Earnest premiered on St. Valentine's Day 1895 to spectacular reviews, predicting a successful run. However, the play was stopped after only 83 performances following public scandal (see lot 28) and a bitter court case instigated by the Marquess of Queensberry, father of Wilde's paramour, Lord Alfred Douglas. This first edition was published by Smithers four years later, incorporating some changes Wilde had made in the preceding months. It was the final comic or dramatic work ever penned by Wilde and has remained his most popular and enduring work, revived continuously (most famously by John Gielgud in 1929), and adapted for film three times.


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