Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Reginald Birch. 1891 edition.


Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Illustrated by Reginald Birch. Later edition, 1891. Ex-Library. Charles Scribner's Sons. New York.

"Mr. Havisham sat in an arm-chair on one side of the open window; on the other side was another still larger chair, and Cedric sat in that and looked at Mr. Havisham. He sat well back in the depths of his big seat, his curly head against the cushioned back, his legs crossed, and his hands thrust deep into his pockets, in a quite Mr. Hobbs-like way. He had been watching Mr. Havisham very steadily when his mamma had been in the room, and after she was gone he still looked at him with respectful thoughtfulness. There was a short silence after Mrs. Errol went out, and Cedric seemed to be studying Mr. Havisham, and Mr. Havisham was certainly studying Cedric. He could not make up his mind as to what an elderly gentleman should say to a little boy who won races, and wore short knickerbockers and red stockings on legs which were not long enough to hang over a big chair when he sat well back in it."

Little Lord Fauntleroy was first serialized in St. Nicholas Magazine from November 1885 to October 1886. The story, set in the 1880s, follows young Cedric Errol, who lives in New York in genteel poverty with his mother. Their lives are transformed when Cedric inherits the title of Lord Fauntleroy and is summoned to England by his estranged grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt. Cedric's inherent goodness gradually warms the heart of his initially cold-hearted grandfather. The character of Cedric also had a significant impact on fashion, with his velvet suit and lace collar becoming a popular style for boys in the Victorian era. Burnett's work also set a legal precedent when she won a copyright lawsuit over the rights to theatrical adaptations of the novel.

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849 - 1924) was a British-American novelist and playwright born in Manchester, England. She emigrated to the United States with her family in 1865, and began her writing career by publishing stories in magazines and later wrote several novels and plays. She is best known for her three children's novels: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911).

Reginald Birch (1856 - 1943) was an English-American artist and illustrator, remembered for his iconic depiction of Little Lord Fauntleroy. His illustrations appeared in St. Nicholas, Harper's, and The Century, and he was a founding member of the Society of Illustrators in New York.
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Condition: A mess! But how does a 133-year-old book come into my hands? I'm as fascinated by a book's own story as I am with the story it tells. This book began its life in the 1890s as a library book. Book No. 1 at the Excelsior Library in Clayton, Illinois. Its condition suggests a reading copy or a restoration project. The binding is loose, and the signatures have separated. There's some soiling on several pages. But the pages, including Birch's illustrations, are complete, and it could be cleaned and repaired, and given new life.

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