London: Printed for Arthur Hall, 1855. First edition of a work about the fifth Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate, Harun al-Rashid. Decorative title-page. Text ruled in black. Binding extremities lightly worn, some minor scuffing to boards. Light offsetting from bookplate, preliminary and terminal blanks very slightly foxed. Contemporary engraved armorial bookplate on front pastedown. A very good copy of a scarce work. Contemporary tan half calf over marbled boards, gilt spine with black morocco label lettered in gilt. Octavo. . vii, [1, blank], 291, [1, colophon] pp. Item #16500
Anne Manning (1807-1879) was a novelist, historian, and painter, who wrote more than fifty books. She was educated by her parents in languages, painting, science, and history. As a child, she won three gold medals for her paintings, one from the Royal Academy of Her earliest work was A Sister’s Gift: Conversations on Sacred Subjects (1826). Manning’s first major work was The Maiden and Married Life of Mary Powell, a fictionalized diary of Milton’s first wife. Manning’s The Adventures of the Caliph is a fictionalized account of its titular character (translated, his name means “Aaron the Just”), who reigned from 786 to 809, which is considered the peak of the Islamic Golden Age, a time marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma (the “House of Wisdom”) in Baghdad, now present day Iraq. The Book of a Thousand and One Nights is set in Harun’s court and some its stories feature him as a character. Both the life and court of Harun al-Rashid have appeared in numerous works, both historical and fictitious.