[RYMER, James Malcolm]. The Dark Woman; or, the Days of the Prince Regent. London, John Dicks 1861-62. Two volumes largish octavo half gilt calf; 104 wood engravings after Gilbert, Sargent and Standfast. Au$1,850

Rare - any and all of Rymer’s novels are rare - and an outstanding copy, made more so by being in a handsome contemporary binding of dark green half calf, spines satisfyingly rich with gilt and contrasting labels (the labels consign authorship to Errym, Rymer’s most common pseudonym) - almost unknown on penny (or halfpenny) dreadfuls. On the endpapers is the inscription of John Gordon Edward Sibbald, 7th December 1866 and the bindings speak of a well-heeled reverence for what was a trashy thriller but the book itself is unthumbed; perhaps Sibbald had another reading copy? - it seems inconceivable that it was an unwanted gift. According to Summers, The Dark Woman was issued in 104 weekly parts at a halfpenny each; in monthly parts at threepence (which seems dear) and as two volumes supplied with titles and contents on completion - as here; all are made up of the weekly parts. One of Rymer’s later novels, well after his successes of the forties like The Black Monk or Varney the Vampyre, but Rymer never ran short of thrilling deeds - darstardly, dare-devil or gruesome; any page or two will exhaust the meek reader.