Details
MELVILLE, Herman (1819-1891). Autograph letter signed ("H Melville") to Richard Bentley, London, 10 November [1849].

Two pages, bifolium, 141 x 88mm (rear leaf mounted to a card). Red cloth chemise and slipcase.

Melville’s arranges his first meeting with London publisher Richard Bentley. A hasty reply to Bentley’s recent note, asking if “agreeable to you, I should be exceedingly glad to meet you here on Monday day after tomorrow, 12’ O’clock, in New Burlington Street, where I will call at that hour.” He assures Bentley that his only objects while visiting London were to see and him "settle some business affairs,” and that he would return again to London in the spring when they could “then become pleasantly acquainted.”

Richard Bentley published several of Melville's works, beginning with Mardi and including, most notably, The Whale — losing money with each endeavor. Melville had tried to visit Bentley at his offices on 8 November, but upon his arrival learned that he had gone to Brighton. The pair met that Monday at noon as planned, as recorded in his journal: "Received another note from Mr. Bentley saying he would be in town this morning, according to my suggestion, at 12 ... Stopped in at the National Gallery on my way to New Burlington Street. Saw Bentley. Very polite. Gave me his note for £100 at 60 days for 'Redburn' — Couldn't do better, he said. He expressed much sincerity & vexation at the state of the Copyright questions. Proposed my new book — 'White Jacket' — to him & showed him the Table of Contents. He was much pleased with it. And notwithstanding the vexations & uncertain state of the Copyright matter, he made me the following offer: — To pay me £200 for the first 1000 copies of the book (the privilege of publishing that number) … A liberal offer. But he could make not advance." (Leyda, 330). Recorded, but not published in Horth (pp. 142-143).

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