[WALPOLE, Horace, 4th Earl of Orford (1717-1797)]. The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic Story. Translated By William Marshall, Gent. From the original Italian of Onuphrio Muralto, Canon of the Church of St. Nicholas at Otranto. Parma: Printed by Bodoni, for J. Edwards, Bookseller of London. 1791.
4to., (9 4/8 x 6 3/8 inches). Letter-press title-page [state B], with Horace's motto on the verso; engraved frontispiece of the "Castle of Otranto" (spotted). Contemporary straight-grained crimson morocco, gilt, all edges gilt (extremities scuffed).
Provenance: Engraved bookplate of Anna Damer [Anne Seymour Damer] (1748-1828), Walpole's goddaughter and sculptress, on the front paste-down; small leather library label of William Armistead Moale Burden (born 1906), aeronautical engineer on the front paste-down.
"You know how courteous a knight I am to distressed virgins of five years old, and my castle-gates are always open to them" (Walpole, letter to Damer's parents)
Sixth edition, first published in 1764. A WONDERFUL ASSOCIATION COPY. From the library of Walpole's goddaughter the celebrated British sculptress Anna Damer, who as her parents were often abroad spent much of her childhood in Walpole's care: "Although her father, General Conway (a man of strong character), was devoted to her, he and her mother were prevented from taking the personal interest in her education, which they otherwise would have taken, owing to their frequent absences from England during the great part of her childhood. She was therefore constantly under the care of Horace Walpole, her father's devoted friend and cousin, who was responsible for the soundness of her early training, and watched over her dawning intellect with the greatest solicitude" (Noble).
Although Walpole was an historian, playwright, connoisseur and Member of Parliament, he is best remembered for this his Gothic tale "The Castle of Otranto" and for the "little Gothic Castle" he built in Twickenham England, Strawberry Hill: "In 1747 he leased his 'little Gothic castle', a forty acre estate in Twickenham called 'Strawberry Hill'. After he purchased it two years later he would begin his passionate and monumental task of doubling its size, assisted by "The Committee of Taste" John Chute, the artist Richard Bentley and himself. He remodelled the exterior with Georgian Gothic architectural details such as battlements and towers and added extensive gardens and landscaping. Inside, the rooms were adorned with biblical scenes and portraits of ancestors. Walpole filled its rooms from his eclectic collection of furnishings, antiquities and works of art. In his library he amassed a huge collection of materials including historical prints and collections of poems and plays published during the reign of George III. Windows were meticulously replaced with 16th and 17th century stained glass pieces that were an integral part of Walpole's vision. He added a library, gallery, a star chamber, an armoury, bedrooms and an oratory. Though he was by no means Catholic he borrowed heavily elements from the gothic church aesthetic. While he was criticised as having questionable tastes in art and decor he rarely expressed pretension and delighted in his jumble of time periods and styles" (C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2006).
Although this is a lavish production in true Walpole style of "The Castle of Otranto" he was not at all happy with this edition: "I am glad you did not get a Parmesan Otranto. A copy is come so full of faults that it is not fit to be sold here" (letter to Mary Berry, 20th December, 1790). Noble "Anne Seymour Damer: A Woman of Art and Fashion" 1908. Catalogued by Kate Hunter