MR. MEESON'S WILL was first published in the 1888 Summer Number of The Illustrated London News.
This Summer Number includes 26 illustrations by A. Forestier and G. Montbard.
The novel was apparently first authorized to be published in book form in New York by Harper & Brothers on June 23, 1888. This edition does not include any of the illustrations by A. Forestier or G. Montbard.
MR. MEESON'S WILL was first published in London by Spencer Blackett in October 1888. The Blackett edition contains 16 full-page illustrations by A. Forestier and G. Montbard.
The following is excerpted from HRH's autobiography:
But [the] success [of THE WITCH'S HEAD] would not tempt my publishers to reissue it in a cheaper form, a venture that they thought too risky. I hawked the work about and eventually found some other publishers—who have long since ceased to publish—who agreed to bring it and “Dawn” out each in a two-shilling edition, and nobly promised me one-third of the profits. But in that generous agreement was a little clause that afterwards nearly proved my ruin. It bound me to allow this firm to republish any other novel I might write during the five following years, in the same form and on the same terms. To such a document as this in my ignorance—there was no Authors’ Society in those days—did I set my hand, with results that shall be told later.....The unfortunate agreement to which I have already alluded, entered into with the firm in which I believe Mr. Maxwell, the late husband of Miss Braddon, was a partner, had been abrogated without a lawsuit, through the admirable efforts of my friend and agent, Mr. A. P. Watt. But this was done at a price, and that price was that I should write them two stories, which in addition to my other and more serious work of course cost me time and labour. The tales that I wrote for them were called respectively "Mr. Meeson's Will" and "Allan's Wife." Ultimately, after various "business complications," in the course of which I lost some money that was due for royalties, together with "Dawn" and "The Witch's Head," they passed into the hands of Messrs. Longmans.
If A. P. Watt had not been successful, then 4 of HRH's most popular novels (KING SOLOMON'S MINES, SHE, JESS and ALLAN QUATERMAIN ) would have been published in a 2-shilling edition, and HRH would have lost a significant amount of money.
See the VisualHaggard.org page dedicated to the illustrations found in various editions.I do not own any of the books pictured, unless noted.
I own the complete serialization of this novel in the 1888 Summer Number.
Below, a photo of an illustration by A. Forestier, from the 1888 Summer Number, depicting a pivotal scene from the story
First British edition front cover
First British edition
My copy of the Harpers first American edition
My copy of the Spencer Blackett first British edition has been rebound in quarter leather, retaining the original illustrated front cover and spine-titling sections
Spencer Blackett first edition frontispiece and title-page.
Note, this frontispiece is NOT found in the serialization. I have no idea why Spencer Blackett used this new illustration instead of the one by A. Forestier.
My copy of the first American edition includes an advertisement (pictured below) for the first part (July) of the serialization of MAIWA'S REVENGE within Harper's Monthly Magazine
My copy of MR. MEESON'S WILL was signed by HRH and gifted to Ida Hector, who became his secretary in 1891.
From HRH's DAYS OF MY LIFE:
When I returned from Mexico in 1891 I fell into very poor health. ... Amongst other inconveniences I found that I could no longer endure the continual stooping over a desk which is involved in the writing of books. It was therefore fortunate for me that about this time Miss Ida Hector, the eldest daughter of Mrs. Hector, better known as Mrs. Alexander, the novelist, became my secretary, and in that capacity, as in those of a very faithful friend and companion, to whose sound sense and literary judgment I am much indebted, has so remained to this day.