London: Downey & Co., 1901. First English language edition. Hardcover. 2 volumes. 8vo. xvi,351pp. 329,ixpp. Gold-lined blue calf over marbled boards with gold decoration on spine. Hand-bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, London. Top edge gilt. Marbled endpapers. Ribbon markers. Ex-libris of Lucy [Doheny] Smith Battson (* see below) on free front endpaper. Frontispieces in both volumes, protected by captioned tissue guards. Frontisportrait in Vol. I of Honoré de Bazac from a daguerreotype given by Balzac to Gavarni. Frontispiece in Vol. II of Mme. Hañska from a bust by Bartolini. Authorized translation with introduction and notes by D. F. Hannigan. Originally published under the title "Lettres à L'Étrangère." In 1832, Balzac received a letter from Odessa - lacking a return address and signed only L'Étrangère " - expressing sadness at the cynicism and atheism in La Peau de Chagrin and its negative portrayal of women. He responded by purchasing a classified advertisement in the Gazette de France, hoping that his secret critic would find it. Thus began a fifteen-year correspondence between Balzac and "the object of his sweetest dreams", Ewelina Hañska. Many of these letters are printed in this two volume set. Minor rubbing and scuffing on binding. Spines sunned. Small stamp "Bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, London, England for J. W. Robinson Company" on verso of free front endpaper. Small bookplate of J. W. Robinson on verso of free rear endpaper in Vol. II, remnants of same bookplate on same leaf in Vol. I. Tight copies in very good to near fine condition. vg. Item #23564
* Lucy [Doheny] Smith Battson was the daughter-in-law of Countess Carrie Estelle Doheny (1875-1958). E. Doheny was a Los Angeles socialite and the second wife of oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny.