London: Bradbury and Evans; John Murray, 1854. 8vo. xii, 468; [vi], 487, ; [iv], 447, ; [iv], 450; xlv, [iii], 454; xii, 548 pp., including index for each set. FIRST EDITION OF WORKS; SECOND EDITION OF LIFE. First four volumes with half-title and second engraved title; Volume IV with engraved frontispiece. Uniformly bound in full polished calf by M.M. Holloway, gilt rules and fleurons, spines elaborately gilt in compartments. Volume IV of Cunningham and Volume I of Forster neatly re-backed, preserving the original back-strips. From the library of Louis E. Goodman, with his bookplate in each volume as well as the small label of Paul Elder & Co. to rear end-papers. Item #10948
First edition of the Works edited by Cunningham; second edition of The Life (the first was entitled The life and adventures of Oliver Goldsmith), with additional notes and corrections. "This edition of Goldsmith's Works not only contains more pieces than any other, but is also the first in which his works appear together exactly as their author left them" (preface). While Goldsmith always carefully corrected his work, it is exceedingly rare to find an edition which actually contains the final versions as corrected by him. The present edition contains not only famous poetical works and novels such as The Deserted Village and The Vicar of Wakefield, but also much of his unpublished and un-credited work. Cunningham (1816-69), a prolific author and critic, edited numerous other works, including Johnson's Lives of the Poets and Murray's Library of British Classics.
Considered at the time to be the definitive biography of Goldsmith, the author was notorious for the care and dedication that he poured into it. Forster (1812-76), a historian and biographer wrote and re-wrote this biography twelve times before having it published. Dickens, to whom this work is dedicated, said of him"nobody could bribe Forster unless it was with a new fact for his life of Goldsmith" (DNB, VII, p. 457).
Goldsmith (1728-74) was an Irish-born poet, novelist and playwright. He barely earned his B.A. in medicine, and never completed his medical studies at Edinburgh University, opting instead to travel around Europe. He later returned to London impoverished, practicing medicine for a time; he eventually abandoned it altogether to devote himself to writing. He spent most of his life in poverty, due to a gambling habit, leaving a debt of over £2000 after his death.