The H. Bradley Martin Copy, with his Bookplate
[Robert Southey]. The Doctor (Vol. IV).
London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, 1837.
First Appearance in Print of "The Story of the Three Bears"
First edition. Octavo. 16 pages of ads, xxvii, 392 pages. Note: only Vol. IV is here offered.
Green cloth with paper label on spine. Cloth fraying at one corner at head of spine. Covers somewhat soiled; corners bumped. Small strip (one-quarter inch) of cloth missing from front joint. Label on spine is rubbed and chipped. Binding fragile and slightly skewed. Two bookplates on front pastedown, including one of noted book collector H. Bradley Martin. Good condition. Housed in a handsome custom green cloth drop-back box.
"The Story of the Three Bears" appeared for the first time in print in a multi-volume collection by Robert Southey, a former Poet Laureate of England. It was long assumed that Southey was the original author of the story until an 1831 manuscript by Eleanor Mure surfaced, proving her to be the true author. The story has changed over the years, as many fairy tales do, and it is interesting to note that there is no Goldilocks in this story, only an "impudent, bad, old Woman" who curses the three (unrelated) bears as she all but ransacks the bears' home after breaking in and may (or may not, depending on one's interpretation) meet a ghastly end. Contained here in a miscellany that is not at all a collection of children's stories, this is a fascinating look at an early version of what is now one of the most popular stories in all of children's literature.
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