8vo., (10 ½ x 7 ¾ inches). (Title page of vol. III a bit spotted). 12 full-page wood-engraved maps; 133 full-page wood engravings; numerous in-text illustrations; wood-engraved frontispieces (one or two spots). Half tan calf, maroon pebbled cloth, the smooth spine attractively decorated with fine gilt tools, with a red morocco gilt lettering piece (scuffed with one or two surface abrasions).
First edition. A profusely illustrated military history of England. “Grant’s father had served with distinction throughout the Peninsular War, and after his wife’s death he obtained a command in Newfoundland; he sailed there in 1833, taking with him his three sons. After spending six years in North American barracks James returned home with his father, who had resigned his command. In 1840 James was appointed ensign in the 62nd foot regiment, based at Chatham; he was soon afterwards appointed commander of the depot, but in 1843 he resigned his commission and entered an architect's office in Edinburgh. He became a skilled draughtsman, but at this time he began to show a literary bent, and devoted himself to novel writing.
“Grant’s first novel was his four-volume Romance of War (1845), describing adventures of the Gordon Highlanders in the Peninsula, based on anecdotes related to him by his father. It enjoyed enormous sales, but produced only £20 for its author. In 1846 he published a sequel, The Highlanders in Belgium. The Adventures of an Aide-de-Camp (1848) equalled the popularity of his first novel. It was followed by Jane Seton (1853) and The Yellow Frigate (1855), and from this point on Grant produced at least one novel per year, including a number based on Scottish history. Their appeal was based on a quick succession of incident, vivacity of style, and convincing dialogue. Grant married Christian Macdonald, the eldest daughter of James Browne, and had two sons: James (who predeceased him) and Roderick. In 1852 he founded and acted as secretary to the National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights, upholding its principles in spite of the mockery of Punch and other English newspapers. He was an energetic supporter of the volunteer movement, and was one of the first to join its ranks. He was consulted frequently by the War Office as an authority on military matters, and many of his suggestions were adopted. In 1875 he converted to Roman Catholicism, his son Roderick having become a Roman Catholic priest.
“In addition to fifty-six novels, Grant wrote widely on history, including Memoirs of Montrose (1851), British Battles on Land and Sea (1873), an Illustrated History of India (1876), and Old and New Edinburgh (1880). His last works of fiction were Playing with Fire (1887), a topical novel based on the war in the Sudan, and Love’s Labour Won (1888), set in Burma. By the 1880s his popularity had declined, and he died in relative poverty on 5 May 1887…” (M. G. Watkins for DNB).