top of page
Felix Holt by George Eliot first edition 1866

Felix Holt by George Eliot first edition 1866


Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1866


8vo., 3 vols; original brick red publisher’s cloth, blindstamped with decorative borders in blind to both boards; lettered and decorated in gilt along backstrips; pale yellow endpapers; pp. [v], 2-303, [i]; [v], 2-290, [v], 2-283, [ii], [2-4, ads]; boards a little scuffed and rubbed, particularly edges and spine tips; some of the gutters cracked, but firm, the odd spot and pencil mark to prelims; one or two corner creases; complete with all three half-titles; perhaps slightly toned in places, but a very uptogether set. 


First edition, first issue, in triple decker format. Carter’s rare and most desirable ‘D’ binding, considered the most superior by the publisher and “uniform in style with Adam Bede, Silas Mariner, and The Mill on the Floss".


Set during the first Reform Act of 1832, Eliot’s socio-political novel follows an election contested by a local landowner, Harold Transome, and the radical Felix Holt. Both soon battle for the affections of Esther Lyon, the minister’s stepdaughter, who is the true heir to the Transome estate. 


Eliot’s fourth novel followed after the lacklustre response to Romola, which she had published with Smith, Elder and Co. In returning to her original publisher, Blackwood, and reverting to a theme pertinent to current affairs, Eliot was confident that she could regain the attentions of the general public. The work remains one of her less popular, but is perhaps one of her more important in terms of highlighting her own opinions regarding the political establishment. Eliot later penned an article entitled Address to Working Men, by Felix Holt, inspired by the second Reform Act of 1867 which enfranchised part of the urban male working class in England and Wales for the first time. 


As Mary Ann Evans, the author herself was astutely political, with many of her works reflecting the thoughts and opinions of so-called social outsiders. Her next novel Middlemarch (1871, and perhaps her most popular work) also centred around political crisis. She was buried in Highgate cemetery, in an area usually reserved for religious dissenters and agnostics, close to the final resting place of Karl Marx. 


A lovely unrestored set in the original publisher’s cloth.

    Product Page: Stores_Product_Widget
    bottom of page