The vicar of Wakefield: a tale, supposed to be written by himself. London: F. Newberry, 1766
Two volumes. 8vo. [vi], 214; [iv], 223 pp. Contemporary gilt-ruled calf, -gilt decorated ribbed spines; interior excellent. Armorial bookplates of Sir Henry Streatfield of Chiddingston Castle, Kent. $3,500.00
Second edition of Goldsmith's most enduring work. Painting a picture of village life, the novel is narrated by Dr. Primrose, the title character, whose family endures a roller-coaster of trials throughout. Its sharp irony balances out its melodrama and sentimental moralizing, as well as its idealization of rural life.
The first edition was brought out by Newberry on March 27, 1766; the present second edition soon followed on May 31st of the same year, and the third followed just a few months later on August 29th.
The Streatfield family was one of the most illustrious of the Chiddingstone area, and their records of living in Chiddingstone castle go back to the 16th century. By tradition, the first son in each generation was named Henry, sometimes causing a problem for local historians (and book cataloguers!) with over 16 Henrys recorded up until 1800. This Henry was most likely the Henry born in 1757 who became High Sheriff in Kent in 1792; his father Henry having died before the publication of The Vicar of Wakefield, and his son Henry not being born for another 20 years.
NCBEL, II, 1197
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