The first book on Mark Twain, from the library of the author
Henri Gauthier-Villars (Willy). Conférence Olivaint. Mark Twain. Paris, Gauthier-Villars, 1884. Ca. 23 x 14 cm. VI, 111, [1 blank] pp. Contemporary green cloth, gold-tooled leather title label, lovely marbled endpapers; original wrappers bound in, untrimmed, preserving deckle edges. Bound by Victor Champs (1844-1912) with his stamped signature on the back of the first free endpaper. The binding with some very light wear, otherwise in fine condition.
The first full book on Mark Twain, written by Henri Gauthier-Villars (1859-1931), author, music-critic and future husband of literary star Colette.
Gauthier-Villars, perhaps better known under his nom de plume "Willy", had first presented his monograph as a paper read at the literary society Conférence Olivaint, a very influential catholic student society.
This copy comes from his personal library, as is evident from an inscription on the half-title: “Quand j’étais petit, je n’étais pas grand. Je montrai ma verve á tous les passages. 1898 (quatorze ans après!)”. This suggests that Gauthier-Villars had his personal copy bound in 1898, 14 years after the publication of his lecture, as a testament of his youthful verve.
It was bound by Victor Champs (1844-1912), an acclaimed Paris binder, whose work is cherished by collectors.
Harrington & Jenn, Mark Twain & France, pp. 141-142; for the binder: Fléty, Dictionnaire des relieurs -français, p. 41.