Gleanings from Venetian History. Volumes I & II.

By Francis Marion Crawford

Printed: 1905

Publisher: Macmillan & Co. London

Dimensions 14 × 20 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 14 x 20 x 4

Buy Now

Item information


Navy cloth binding with gilt title on the spine and front board. Dimensions are for one volume.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

  • Note: This book carries the £5.00 discount to those that subscribe to the F.B.A. mailing list.

First Edition: Two Volumes, Hardback, approx 8 x 5.5 inches. Navy cloth blue bindings with blue cloth to boards with gilt line edging. Raised banding to spines with gilt lettering, and paneled decorations. Top page edges gilt, marbled endpapers. In very good condition. Some small spots and handling marks to cloth on boards. With nearly 200 B&W text illustrations and 29 full-page gravure plates by Joseph Pennell.

Francis Marion Crawford (August 2, 1854 – April 9, 1909) was an American writer noted for his many novels, especially those set in Italy, and for his classic weird and fantastical stories.

Crawford was born in Bagni di Lucca, in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, on August 2, 1854. He was the only son of the American sculptor Thomas Crawford and Louisa Cutler Ward. His sister was the writer Mary Crawford Fraser (aka Mrs. Hugh Fraser), and he was the nephew of Julia Ward Howe, the American poet. After his father’s death in 1857, his mother remarried to Luther Terry, with whom she had Crawford’s half-sister, Margaret Ward Terry, who later became the wife of Winthrop Astor Chanler. He studied successively at St Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire; Cambridge University; University of Heidelberg; and the University of Rome. In 1879, he went to India, where he studied Sanskrit and edited in Allahabad The Indian Herald. Returning to America in February 1881, he continued to study Sanskrit at Harvard University for a year and for two years contributed to various periodicals, mainly The Critic. Early in 1882, he established his lifelong close friendship with Isabella Stewart Gardner. During this period he lived most of the time in Boston at his aunt Julia Ward Howe’s house and in the company of his uncle, Sam Ward. His family was concerned about his financial prospects. His mother had hoped he could train in Boston for a career as an operatic baritone based on his private renditions of Schubert lieder. In January 1882, George Henschel, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, assessed his prospects and determined Crawford would “never be able to sing in perfect tune”. His uncle Sam Ward suggested he try writing about his years in India and helped him develop contacts with New York publishers.


                                       Francis Marion Crawford, ca. 1904

In December 1882, he produced his first novel, Mr Isaacs, a sketch of modern Anglo-Indian life mingled with a touch of Oriental mystery. It had an immediate success, and Dr Claudius (1883) followed promptly. In May 1883, he returned to Italy, where he made his permanent home. He lived at the historic Hotel Cocumella in Sorrento during 1885 and settled permanently in Sant’Agnello, where in the fall he bought the Villa Renzi that became Villa Crawford. More than half his novels are set in Italy. He wrote three long historical studies of Italy and was well advanced with a history of Rome in the Middle Ages when he died. This may explain why Marion Crawford’s books stand apart from any distinctively American current in literature.

Year by year Crawford published a number of successful novels. However his 1896 novel Adam Johnstone’s Son was thought by the late nineteenth century English novelist George Gissing to be “rubbish”. Late in the 1890s, Crawford began to write his historical works. These are: Ave Roma Immortalis (1898), Rulers of the South (1900) renamed Southern Italy and Sicily and The Rulers of the South in 1905 for the American market, and Gleanings from Venetian History (1905) with the American title Salvae Venetia, reissued in 1909 as Venice; the Place and the People. In these, his intimate knowledge of local Italian history combines with the romanticist’s imaginative faculty to excellent effect. His shorter book Constantinople (1895) belongs to this category.

After most of his fictional works had been published, most came to think he was a gifted narrator; and his books of fiction, full of historic vitality and dramatic characterization, became widely popular among readers to whom the realism of problems or the eccentricities of subjective analysis were repellent. In The Novel: What It Is (1893), he defended his literary approach, self-conceived as a combination of romanticism and realism, defining the art form in terms of its marketplace and audience. The novel, he wrote, is “a marketable commodity” and “intellectual artistic luxury” (8, 9) that “must amuse, indeed, but should amuse reasonably, from an intellectual point of view. . . . Its intention is to amuse and please, and certainly not to teach and preach; but in order to amuse well it must be a finely-balanced creation. . . .” (82).

The Saracinesca series is perhaps known to be his best work, with the third in the series, Don Orsino (1892) set against the background of a real estate bubble, told with effective concision. The second volume is Sant’ Ilario [Hilary] (1889). A fourth book in the series, Corleone (1897), was the first major treatment of the Mafia in literature, and used the now-familiar but then-original device of a priest unable to testify to a crime because of the Seal of the Confessional; the novel is not one of his major works, having failed to live up to the standard set by the books earlier in the series. Crawford ended Rulers of the South (1900) with a chapter about the Sicilian Mafia.

Crawford himself was fondest of Khaled: A Tale of Arabia (1891), a story of a genie (genius is Crawford’s word) who becomes human, which was reprinted (1971) in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series of the early 1970s. A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance (1890) was dramatized, and had considerable popularity on the stage as well as in its novel form; and in 1902 an original play from his pen, Francesca da Rimini, was produced in Paris by his friend Sarah Bernhardt. Crawford’s best known dramatization was that of The White Sister (1909). Its main actress was Viola Allen, whose first film was the 1915 film of this novel; it was filmed again in 1923 and 1933. In the Palace of the King (1900) was filmed in 1915 and 1923; Mr. Isaacs (1882) was filmed in 1931 as Son of India.

Several of his short stories, such as “The Upper Berth” (1886; written in 1885), “For the Blood Is the Life” (1905, a vampiress tale), “The Dead Smile” (1899), and “The Screaming Skull” (1908), are often-anthologized classics of the horror genre. An essay on Crawford’s weird tales can be found in S. T. Joshi’s The Evolution of the Weird Tale (2004); there are many other essays and introductions. The collected weird stories were posthumously published in 1911 as Wandering Ghosts in the U.S. and as Uncanny Tales in the UK, both without the long-forgotten “The King’s Messenger” (1907). The present definitive edition is that edited by Richard Dalby as Uncanny Tales and published by the Tartarus Press (1997; 2008). Crawford’s novella Man Overboard! (1903) is often overlooked, but belongs with his supernatural works.

In 1901, the American Macmillan firm began a deluxe uniform edition of his novels, as reprintings required. In 1904 the P. F. Collier Co. (N. Y.) was authorized to publish a 25-volume edition, later increased to 32 volumes. Around 1914 the subscription firm McKinlay, Stone, Mackenzie was authorized to publish an edition using the Macmillan binding decorations. In 1919 the American Macmillan firm published the “Sorrento Edition”. They also had issued some first American editions and reprints in a uniform binding from 1891 through 1899. The British Macmillan firm used two separate uniform bindings from 1889 until after 1910.

Crawford wrote numerous articles for major periodicals and a few contributions to books.

Want to know more about this item?

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this item. In addition, it is also possible to request more photographs if there is something specific you want illustrated.
Ask a question

Share this Page with a friend