Tuesday 26 December 2017

Glimpses of the Wonderful - Christmas Annual 1845

The rare and truly wonderful Christmas annual written anonymously by Gosse.

This is the first of three annuals in a series, but Freeman and Wertheimer ‘found no evidence to suggest that Gosse wrote the other two volumes…’

This red binding is 23a in Freeman and Wertheimer.

Annuals of this kind were popular, and the set of three was also published in the USA in at least three editions.

However, the example from my library is the first edition, published by Harvey and Darton, London.

Edmund Gosse makes but a passing reference to the volume in the biography of his father.

…His latest occupation of a purely literary nature… was to write for Messrs. Harvey and Darton a Christmas annual, which appeared the ensuing winter under the title of Glimpses of the Wonderful. This little volume, gaily illustrated in the taste of the time, was a “pot-boiler,” if ever there was one, and the author, though he had not scammed this perfunctory task, declined to allow his name to appear on the title-page.

(Note that Ann Thwaite chose Glimpses of the Wonderful as the title to her biography of Gosse, published in 2002.)

© John Dunn.

Sunday 26 November 2017

The Ocean

This was the most successful of Gosse’s popular books. First published in 1845, it remained in print until the 1880s in England, with at least five USA printings, two of them with variant titles.

I have five examples in my library, each one representative of the changes to the English bindings over the years. Selected illustrations from the book are included below.


First edition of 1845. This book is numbered 7c in Freeman and Wertheimer, and the binding described as brown fine diaper.


This 1849 binding is not listed in Freeman and Wertheimer. It is in a green morocco with a horizontal fine rib wave pattern.


This book from 1860 is not listed in Freeman and Wertheimer. The case is the same as 15a in all respects, except that my book has a green binding, rather than the purple-brown described.


This book also from 1860 is not listed in Freeman and Wertheimer. The case is the same as 17b in all respects, except that my book has a red diagonal fine rib binding, rather than the green described.


This edition from 1874 is numbered as 21 in Freeman and Wertheimer, where the binding is described as pink. The brown colour of my book is likely to be the result of discolouration over the years, but there is a possibility that it is an unlisted variant.

Selected illustrations that are included in all editions.

© John Dunn.