Epistolae Ho-Elianae, Or Familiar Letters
Author: James HowellPeter Jones
Epistolae Ho-Elianae, Or Familiar Letters 1655 First Complete Edition
Third edition of the first three volumes, first edition of fourth, all bound as one
By James Howell
Printed In London For Humphrey Moseley
The Volume is in Very Good Condition rebacked, retaining the blind ruled calf, with red morocco letter-piece on the spine and the board edges blind tooled. Externally the boards and spine are lightly scuffed in general, with the newer spine showing wear, weakening at the hinges, with no chipping otherwise. Internally the leaves are generally clean and amply margined, with some mild toning and foxing throughout, some small marginal stains, and little else in the way of tears otherwise.
The Volume is Complete in All Respects with the engraved title, folded, bound before the regular title, and with final advertisement. See below for pagination & dimensions.
Of James Howell
James Howell was an exemplary gentleman of seventeenth century England, for his numerous employments, writings and political involvement. Educated at Oxford, he had a variety of employments after graduation, as an administrator for a glass manufacturer, and in the often combined roles of secretary and instructor to several noble families. As factory agent and negotiator he traveled widely in Europe and learned to speak several languages, apparently with great facility. He also met and befriended numerous literary figures, among them Ben Jonson and Kenelm Digby. Paramount amongst his priorities was however royal, or at least aristocratic patronage. On the eve of the English Civil War, he finally gained a secretaryship of the Privy Council, which according to one eminent critic, was “very close to the type of appointment that he had sought for 20 years”. The conflict meant that he never took up the position, and at about the same time, he wrote his first book, or “maiden Fancy”, Dodona’s Grove, which represented the history of England and Europe through the allegorical framework of a typology of trees. It is worth noting that he started to publish at this time of ferment although he was already well established as a writer of what we would know today as ‘newsletters’ but were then known as ‘tracts’ or ‘pamphlets’. He was the first writer to earn his living solely from writing in the English language. He was also the first writer of an epistolary novel, a novel of letters, in English, the ‘Familiar Letters’.
Epistolae Ho-Elianae, or Familiar Letters, was mainly written when Howell was in the Fleet Prison, during the 1640s; but its content reflects earlier travels he made from 1616 on behalf of a London glass factory. It appeared in three volumes from 1645 to 1650. A fourth volume was added in a collected edition of 1655. It has been suggested that some of the letters are fictional, & the selection of the recipients has also been attributed to patronage relationships. A “Mrs. A. W.” who occurs as recipient has been fitted to another letter by Howell to provide a tentative deductive identification of the author of A Continuation of Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia (1651) as Anna Weamys, who is not otherwise traced as a writer.
Pagination & Dimensions
The volume is paginated as follows: [xxiv], -309, [v], 115, [xxiii], 38, [xiv], 126, [x]. The volume collates as follows: [A]8, a4, A-2H8, A4, B-I8, K4. The volume measures about 17 cm. By 12 cm. by 4 cm. Each leaf measures about 165 mm. By 105 mm.