London: Henry Colburn, 1826. First edition of the final work of Elizabeth Craven (1750 – 1828), published just two years before her death. Craven was no stranger to scandal, particularly for her affair with the Count of Guines, French ambassador to London, and the present work sparked its own social uproar: “her spirited, frank, and self-aggrandizing Memoirs…caused a stir on their publication in 1826,” (ODNB). With frontispieces: engraved portrait of the author in volume one, and engraved profile of the author’s husband, the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, in volume two. Front hinge of volume one is tender and splitting at head of spine. Some rubbing to spine. Toning to edges of endpapers and some foxing to front matter. Offsetting from frontispieces to title-pages. Otherwise, remarkably clean and bright throughout. A very good, fresh set. Contemporary light brown calf with geometric roll and red morocco spine label. Two volumes, octavo. viii, 430 pp.; vii, 406 pp. Item #16956
Elizabeth Craven, née Lady Elizabeth Berkeley, Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Bayreuth, was a travel writer, playwright, and socialite. She was a friend of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Horace Walpole, “with whom she corresponded for years and who published her earliest literary ventures.” He also encouraged her to publish what would become her most important work, A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople (1789), which “exploits to the full the gossipy and self-vindicating scope of first-person travelogue. She describes manners, customs, and landscapes, pronounces Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s [Turkish Embassy Letters] a forgery, and constructs a self-image of redoubtable British vigor as well as devoted and injured motherhood.” After Craven’s divorce from her first husband, “she settled near Versailles, wrote little plays in French for the court theatre, and soon made the acquaintance of Christian Frederick Charles Alexander [1706 – 1806], Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Bayreuth, a member of the same ruling family as the king of Prussia.” They married in 1791.