Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1880. Small quarto, measuring 7.5 x 6 inches. Original green pictorial cloth stamped in gilt and black, grey floral endpapers. Decorative headpieces throughout text, seventeen black and white illustrations. Presentation inscription to flyleaf. Corners and spine ends lightly bumped, occasional smudge to text.
Early edition of this illustrated children’s book by Helen Hunt Jackson, best remembered for her popular 1884 novel Ramona. In 1836, Jackson’s mother mailed her five-year-old daughter, then traveling, a series of letters in the voice of the family cat: “until I grew to be a big girl, I never doubted but that Pussy printed them all alone by herself, after dark.” Decades later, Jackson revisited the letters, which record Pussy’s adventures and misadventures back home: she is frightened by an unusually thorough house cleaning, befriended by a “splendid black cat” named Caesar, and injured by a fall into the “soft, slimy, sticky” soap barrel, which burns off her fur. In Jackson’s introduction, she recalls her devotion to her childhood pet, whose death was a turning point in her childhood: “My kind mother offered to get another kitten for me, but I did not want one. . . . I was as true to my Pussy as she was to me; and from that day to this, I have never had another Pussy!” Widely reprinted, Letters from a Cat first appeared in 1879 (BAL 10438). A near-fine copy.