Hard Cover. London: Leonard Smithers and Co., 1899. First Edition. Very Good.
First edition, first printing, one of 1,000 copies. Publisher' pale lavender cloth with decorative leaf designs, lettered in gilt to spine, fore and bottom edges of text block untrimmed. A very good copy some light rubbing to the extremities, some fraying to the lower corner, light foxing to the first several leaves, and a former owner signature to the front endpaper. Mason 381. Widely considered Wilde's masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest is a three act play that was first performed in London at the St. James Theatre on February 14, 1895, under the direction of Mr. George Alexander. A satire on Victorian social obligations, the play features two protagonists, John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, both of whom use alternate identities to lead separate lives in the country and the city. Although the first performance was decidedly successful, The Importance of Being Earnest was closed after only 86 shows due to the negative publicity surrounding Wilde's controversial lawsuit with The Marquess of Queensberry. Wilde moved to Paris after his reputation was tarnished and ceased writing dramas, making The Importance of Being Earnest his final play.