MELVILLE, Herman (1819-1891). White Jacket; or The World in a Man-of-War. London: Richard Bentley, 1850.

The scarce first edition of Melville's novel based on his time in the U.S. Navy. The author served for 14 months between 1834-1844 aboard the U.S.S. United States and the novel exposes the harsh conditions and unfair treatment of the men working on board. Melville wrote the book in two months for a quick financial boost. While this and Redburn were not his personal favorites, they grew in popularity among readers. Melville’s work was turned into a political talking point against the use of flogging by the U.S. Navy, being sent to members of Congress during the congressional debate. Although not directly credited, flogging was abolished the same year as White Jacket’s publication. This is one of only 1000 copies printed. Scarce; the first American edition is much more common. ABPC records the last copy to sell at auction in 2011. BAL 13661.

Two volumes, octavo. Original blue cloth, endpapers printed with publisher’s advertisements (a little chipping to cloth at spine ends, hinges tender, some general scuffing and soiling). Custom chemises and quarter morocco slipcase.
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