Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Incomplete First American Edition, in Green Cloth Binding, 1885

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Charles L. Webster, 1885. Incomplete first American edition.  Quarto, in publisher’s green pictorial cloth stamped in gilt and black, rebound in later green leather with original front cover and spine laid down. With new archival clamshell with inlaid portrait and gilt signature to the front.

This is a green cloth, incomplete first American edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The book was published in New York by Charles L. Webster in 1885. The book is illustrated by Edward Kemble, with a photogravure plate of a Twain portrait bust by Karl Gerhardt. 

Twain initially conceived the work as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, intending to follow the character Huckleberry Finn through adulthood. Beginning with a few pages he had removed from the earlier novel, Twain began work on a manuscript he originally titled Huckleberry Finn's Autobiography. Twain worked on the manuscript off and on for the next several years, ultimately abandoning his original plan of following Huck's development into adulthood. He lost interest in the manuscript and set it aside for several years. After making a trip down the Hudson River, Twain returned to work writing the novel. Upon completion, the novel's title closely paralleled its predecessor's: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade). Twain composed the story in pen on note paper between 1876 and 1883.

From the moment of publication, Huckleberry Finn endured critical attacks, standing accused of “blood-curdling humor,” immorality, coarseness, and profanity. The book nevertheless emerged as one of the defining novels of American literature, prompting Ernest Hemingway to declare: “All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since.” Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been called “the most praised and most condemned 19th-century American work of fiction” (Legacies of Genius, 47).


Good condition overall. 4to, publisher's green pictorial cloth stamped in gilt and black, rebound in later green leather with original front cover and spine laid down. New joints and endpapers. Interior pages have very minor soiling, small chips with losses to blank margins. Presented in a new archival clamshell case with inlaid Twain portrait and gilt facsimile signature to the front. 

Incomplete first American edition printing, with the following first issue points: page [9] with "Decided"; page [13] illustration caption incorrect; and p. 57 ("with the was"); the title-page and p. 283 are cancels. The other known points "are of no significance in determining the sequence of the printing of the sheets. All of these occur at random in relation to each other within copies of the first printing, a strong indicator of the use of multiple plates, and possibly mixed sheets within the collating process" (MacDonnell, Firsts, vol. 8, no. 7/8, 1998, p. 31). BAL 3415. 

Lacking frontispiece. Text illustrations by E.W. Kemble, photogravure plate of a portrait bust by Karl Gerhardt (BAL state 1). 

Dimensions: Book: 8 3/4" H x 7 1/8" W x 1 1/4"D. Clamshell: 10"H x 8 1/8" W x 2" D.

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