HRH said: "I wrote ... my novel 'Beatrice,' which I think one of the best bits of work I ever did."
Apparently first published in London by Longmans, Green on May 12, 1890. Purportedly, 10,000 copies were printed. No illustrations are found in the first edition, but later impressions do include a frontispiece and title-page vignette by Maurice Greiffenhagen. Ads at the end are date-coded 3/90.
In New York, the first authorized American edition was published in 1890 by Harper & Brothers. This edition contains excellent illustrations never found in the Longmans British editions.
In Toronto, Canada, Bryce published its first edition, also in 1890.
Circa 1906, George Newnes also issued an illustrated edition, a paperback with 8 Cyrus Cuneo illustrations on plates.
Miss Marie Corelli wrote a letter to Haggard on June 12, 1890:
If you are still in town, and you would favour me with a call on Sunday afternoon next, about five o’clock, I should be so pleased to renew the acquaintance made some months past, when your kindly words made me feel more happy and encouraged me in my uphill clamber! I saw you from the gallery at the Literary Fund Dinner, and wished I had had the chance of speaking to you. Your book 'Beatrice' is beautiful—full of poetry and deep thought—but I don’t believe the public—that with obstinate pertinacity look to you for a continuation ad infinitum of “King Solomon’s Mines” and “She”—will appreciate it as they ought and as it deserves. Whenever I see a World and Pall Mall Gazette vulgarly sneering at a work of literature, I conclude that it must be good—exceptionally so!—and this is generally a correct estimate: it certainly was so concerning 'Beatrice.'
Trusting you will come and see me (we are very quiet people and don’t give crushes!),
Very sincerely yours,
See the VisualHaggard.org page dedicated to the illustrations found in various editions.
I do not own any of the books pictured, unless noted.
BEATRICE caused somewhat of a scandal, as per HRH's own words below:
"Some years after BEATRICE was published I was horrified to receive two anonymous or semi-anonymous letters from ladies who alleged that their husbands, or the husbands of someone connected with them—one of them a middle-aged clergyman—after reading BEATRICE, had made advances to young ladies of that name; or perhaps the young ladies had made advances to them which they more or less reciprocated—I forget the exact facts. Also I heard that a gentleman and a lady had practised the sleep-walking scene, with different results from those recorded in the book. These stories troubled me so much—since I had never dreamed of such an issue to a tale with a different moral—that I wished to suppress the book, and wrote to Charles Longman [his publisher] suggesting that this should be done; also I took counsel with [Andrew] Lang and other friends. They thought me extremely foolish, and were rather indignant about the business. Longman’s views are expressed in such of his letters as I can find dealing with the matter, only he added that, even if there had been any reason for it, it was not possible to suppress a book so widely known, especially after it had been pirated in America. Lang’s letters I have not time to find at present, but I remember that they were to the same effect. ... The end of the matter was that I went through the tale carefully, modified or removed certain passages that might be taken to suggest that holy matrimony is not always perfect in its working, etc., and wrote a short preface which may now be read in all the copies printed since that date.
As I have said, the incident disturbed me a good deal, and more or less set me against the writing of novels of modern life. It is very well to talk about art with a large A, but I have always felt that the author of books which go anywhere and everywhere has some responsibilities. Therefore I have tried to avoid topics that might inflame even minds which are very ready to be set on fire."
Longmans first British edition
Ads at end date-coded 3/90
My copy of the Harpers first American edition
This is a very rare book
Harpers frontispiece and title-page
My rebound 1903 SIGNED copy that HRH gifted to John Hays Hammond, part of a set of 23 volumes
Maurice Greiffenhagen frontispiece and vignette on title-page not found in the Longmans first edition
My copy of a Hodder & Stoughton British reprint with original DJ
Newnes British reprint paperback, with Cuneo illustrations
I own a copy but not the one depicted below