Extremely Rare First Edition of “The Holy City,” a Survivor of the Great Fire of London
BUNYAN, John. Holy City. Or, The New Jerusalem. London , 1665.
Rare first edition of The Holy City, derived from Bunyan’s sermons preached at Bedford jail during his imprisonment there from 1660-1672. Small octavo. [16], 294 pp.

[Bound together as the second work with:]

BUNYAN, John. Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ. Or, a Plain and Profitable Discourse On John VI. Verse xxxvii. Shewing The Cause, Truth, and Manner of the Coming of a Sinner to Jesus Christ: With his Happy Reception, and Blessed Entertainment. The Tenth Edition. London: Printed for R. Ware..., 1750.

Tenth edition (first published in 1678). 178, [1], [1, blank] pp. Woodcut portrait of John Bunyan, engraved frontispiece, and two woodcut illustrations.

Eighteenth-century sprinkled calf. Smooth spine ruled in gilt and lettered in blind. Head of spine a little chipped. Slightly shaved, occasionally affecting catchwords in Come and Welcome, small portion torn from upper inner margin of first two leaves of The Holy City, affecting first word of title. Occasional light spotting or staining. Early ink ownership inscription of William March on p. 244 of The Holy City. A few additional early ink annotations and underlining. A very good copy of this extremely rare work (this is the only copy to have appeared at auction in the last twenty-five years). Housed in a cloth clamshell case.

From the libraries of R.L. Harmsworth (sale Sotheby’s 27January 1947, lot 2656) and George Goyder (with his armorial bookplate on front Bunyan was arrested in November 1660 “for preaching without a licence, and spent most of the next twelve years in Bedford gaol. During the first half of this period he wrote nine books, the principal of which was Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666). In 1665 appeared The Holy City, or the New Jerusalem, inspired by a passage in the book of Revelation...After his release in 1672 he was appointed pastor at the same church, but was imprisoned for a short period in 1676, during which he probably finished the first part of The Pilgrim’s Progress, which had been partly written during the latter years of the first imprisonment” (The Oxford Companion to English Literature).

“There were two separate issues of The Holy City, one with the imprint—‘London, Printed in the year 1665’; and the other, ‘London, Printed by J. Dover in St. Barthomew’s Close’, undated. This printer appears (according to Plomer) to have been the widow and successor of Simon Dover who, in 1663/4, was heavily fined, pilloried, and imprisoned ‘during the King’s pleasure’ for printing a seditious pamphlet. He ‘dyed’ (says Francis Smtih) ‘in Newgate, almost to the ruine of his Family’—in or about 1664. A second edition, undoubtedly made up from remaining sheets of the first, with a fresh title-page, dated 1669, was issued by Francis Smith” (Harrison, p. xv). As Harrison explains (on p. xvi), the extreme rarity of early editions of Bunyan’s works is due to the Great Fire of 1666, which destroyed whole stocks belonging to booksellers Wing B5534 (listing two copies). Harrison X (listing five copies, including this one, the R.L. Harmsworth copy) and XXIV.

HBS # 66447 $17,500