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Alcott, Louisa May.

Frost King, The.


A Rare Pirated Edition of Her First Book
Alcott, Louisa May.  The Frost King; or, the power of love, and how it prevailed over fear and cruelty.  Illustrated.  London: James Blackwood, 1855.
8vo.; navy cloth, stamped in blind and gilt; black-and-white Dalziel Brothers illustrations throughout; illustration and title variation ("The Frost King or the Power of Kindness") on the front cover; foxed; all edges gilt; tips bumped.
First British edition, possibly pirated.  The first edition, published in Boston in 1854 under the title Flower Fables, contains five inserted plates; this edition has six different ones by the famed British engraving firm Dalziel Brothers (the same firm responsible for the illustrated Household Edition of the Works of Charles Dickens).  The Dalziel illustrations are more sophisticated and detailed than those that appear in the first edition.  The chapters have also been rearranged and there appears to be some additional text (this edition contains 208 pages, compared to 182 in the first edition).  Alcott wrote these stories and poems as a teenager for Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter, Ellen.  Inspired by the fairytales passed down to her by family friend Henry David Thoreau, Alcott interwove adult themes in her whimsical stories - many of her fairy characters must toil underground in the winter and make sacrifices to protect the creatures they love.  In the title story, The Frost King is a merciless tyrant who is taught kindness by a devoted sprite named Violet, who risks death in order to save him.
The first edition of Flower Fables was published with the help of Miss Wealthy Stevens, a benefactress friend of Bronson Alcott.  Though Alcott had already published a few poems anonymously or under the pseudonym A.N. Barnard, Flower Fables was the first work she published under her own name.  The book garnered praise in the Saturday Evening Gazette, where Alcott would later publish many of her short stories.  
A truly rare copy-we can locate no others like it in OCLC or RLG.  Not in BAL.

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