8vo., (8 ¾ x 5 ½ inches). Half-title, vignette title page, 2 sectional title pages (very slightly toned throughout). 43 in-text illustrations. Contemporary full olive green calf, with each cover decorated with a border of two gilt fillets and blind dot roll tool with small gilt roll tool at each corner and further decorated with fine gilt daisy tool at inner corners, the spine in six compartments separated by five raised bands, with red morocco gilt lettering piece in the second, the others elaborately decorated in gilt with fine floral and circle tools, all edges marbled (a few light surface abrasions, extremities gently worn).
Provenance: With two early manuscript ownership inscriptions to the first blank: “Henrietta Anne Dolben / Easter 1846” and “Herbert J. Pulling / Dec. 5. 1889.”
Only edition thus, first published as “The natural history and antiquities of Selborne, in the county of Southampton with engravings, and an appendix” in 1789. Profusely illustrated with wood engravings in the text. “…[T]he first book to link the worlds of nature and the village, is Gilbert White’s ‘The Natural History of Selborne.’ This deceptively simple and unpretentious account of natural comings and goings in an eighteenth-century Hampshire parish has come to be regarded as one of the most perfectly realized celebrations of nature in the English language. The American writer J. R. Lowell once described it as ‘the journal of Adam in Paradise.’ This was extravagant even by the generous standards of the tributes heaped upon this book, yet Lowell had succeeded in catching something essential about both the man and his writing. Selborne, the real English village that is the setting for the book, may fall a mite short as a model for paradise; but the dramas of courtship, birth, survival and migration that are played out in its woods and fields, have, as recounted by White, something almost sacramental about them. Although he lived at a time when the rule of reason and the supremacy of man were accepted almost as gospel, White contrived to portray the daily business of lesser creatures as a source not just of interest, but of delight and inspiration. To that extent the book is a glimpse of a place of sanctuary” (Richard Mabey, “Gilbert White: A Biography of the Author of ‘The Natural History of Selborne’”).