Hard Cover. London: Office of the Illustrated London Library, 1852. Very Good.
Four volumes. Second edition, revised by the author's son. Finely bound in early 20th century quarter red morocco with five raised bands and dark purple marbled paper-covered boards, lettered in gilt to spine, maroon marbled endpapers. A very good set with some wear and bumps to extremities, front hinges slightly shaken, bookplate to each front pastedown, some scattered spotting to text blocks, Vol. IV with a few scratches to front board. Overall, a handsome set. First published in four volumes from 1828 to 1830, this detailed biography of Napoleon Bonaparte was written by the English essayist and literary critic William Hazlitt (1778-1830), a contemporary of writers like John Keats, Charles and Mary Lamb, and William Wordsworth. A life-long admirer of Napoleon, Hazlitt took on the challenge of writing his biography after learning of fellow author Sir Walter Scott's own attempt to do the same. Hazlitt deemed Scott's perspective on the French Emperor too conservative, offering no personal insight either against or in support of Napoleon's actions. Hazlitt's own work was informed by his deep-seated respect for the Emperor; he sought to explore Napoleon's life in as much detail as possible and spent the last several years of his life in Paris conducting research. Despite his fanatical dedication to the task, the book did not reach the success Hazlitt had hoped for upon its publication; the last two volumes were not published until after his death, and were largely a financial failure. This second edition, as his son states in the preface, is an attempt to rekindle interest in the book, and make it more affordable to the general public, allowing it to reach a wider audience of readers.