The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (First Edition) by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by Mark Twain (1835-1910). The first edition of this work was published in 1884 by Chatto & Windus, London, and the first American edition in 1885 by Charles L Webster and Company, New York. Background
Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which switches its focus to Sawyer’s friend Huck Finn. The character was based on a real boy, the son of a drunkard who lived near the Mississippi River where the author grew up. The adventures related in the tale were partly based on the experiences of this childhood friend’s older brother, who was a teenage fisherman with his own skiff. This boy helped a runaway slave in defiance of the law.
The novel was much criticised due to its coarse language, and frequent racial stereotyping typical of the era, despite the novel’s comparatively scathing examination of racism and entrenched attitudes.
Huckleberry Finn is considered to be one of the Great American Novels.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The novel describes the adventures and life of several colourful characters living in rural Missouri on the Mississippi river between 1835 and 1845. Its setting is a romantic portrayal of a Southern antebellum society that no longer existed when the book was written.
The book describes the adventures had by Huckleberry Finn as he escapes from the confines of his home town and his violent drunkard father, and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi river to live in the wilderness. It describes the people he meets and his aiding of an escaped slave.
Significantly, this was one of the first major American works of fiction to be written in a regional vernacular narrative.
Mark Twain, real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens, was an American author and humorist.
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
It must be observed that the British first edition of 1884 was published before the American first edition of 1885 (Charles L Webster and Company), and is therefore the true edition. However, it is much more common for the American first edition to be seen at auction.
Editions are worth much more in their original decorative cloth bindings. Therefore it is not recommended to restore or rebind first editions.
American first editions (1885) have sold at Heritage Auctions for $5,975 in October 2010, at Sothebys for $18,750 in December 2007, $45,000 in April 2004, and at Christie’s for $13,750 in December 2010, for and $18,750 in December 2009.
Christie’s also sold an inscribed first American edition for $27,500 in June 2011, Mark Twain’s own copy of the American first edition for $108,00 in April 2005, and the American publisher Charles Webster’s copy with the original handwritten suppressed dedication for $265,100 in June 2004.
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