Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Company, 1857. First Edition, First Printing. Blind-stamped cloth. 12mo (7 1/4" x 5"), original blind-stamped brown publisher's cloth with gold lettering on spine, illustrated with steel engravings & protective tissue guards, adverts as pastedowns and endpapers, viii + 373 pages. Fine / None. Item #2415
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809 – 1894) was an American physician, poet, and polymath based in Boston. A member of the Fireside Poets, he was acclaimed by his peers as one of the best writers of the day. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858). He was also an important medical reformer. In addition to his work as an author and poet, Holmes also served as a physician, professor, lecturer and inventor and, although he never practiced it, he received formal training in law.
In 1830, Holmes moved out of his childhood home in Cambridge, Massachusetts and stayed in a boardinghouse in Boston while attending the city's medical college. During this time, he wrote two essays detailing life at his boardinghouse. They were published under the title "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table" in November 1831 and February 1832 in the New England Magazine.
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858) is a collection of Holmes' essays originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1857 and 1858 before being collected in book form. The author had written two essays with the same name which were published in the earlier The New-England Magazine in November 1831 and February 1832, which are alluded to in a mention of an "interruption" at the start of the very first essay.
The essays take the form of a chiefly one-sided dialogue between the unnamed Author and the other residents of a
New England boarding house who are known only by their profession, location at the table or other defining characteristics. The topics discussed range from an essay on the unexpected benefits of old age to the finest place to site a dwelling and comments on the nature of conversation itself. The tone of the book is distinctly Yankee and takes a seriocomic approach to the subject matter.
Each essay typically ends with a poem on the theme of the essay. There are also poems ostensibly written by the fictional disputants scattered throughout.
SUPERIOR COPY of this classic of 19th century American literature: tight, clean, bright with minimal foxi
ng and only slight rubbing to extremities. Previous owner's penciled name and "Dec. '58" date on front endpaper.
We also note four very small barren spots along the lower edge of the spine.