London: Smithers, 1899. First edition, first impression, one of 1,000 copies printed. Quarto. pp. [xiv], 213. Armorial bookplate on front pastedown. Bound by Hatchards of Piccadilly in contemporary half brown morocco gilt on light brown linen covers, brown silk marker. Original salmon cloth bound in at end. Top edge gilt. A very good copy.
Wilde could write English of silken delicacy, but in his choice of epithets there are frequent traces of that ‘industry’ which he denounced as the ‘root of all ugliness’. Oscar Wilde’s third comedy, ‘An Ideal Husband’ premiered at the Haymarket on 3 January 1895, before Wilde’s trial, but was not published until after his release from prison. This edition was published anonymously. There was no author stated on the first printing, with merely “”By the Author of Lady Windermere’s Fan”” printed on title page, as per this copy.
Together with The Importance of Being Earnest, it is often considered Wilde’s dramatic masterpiece.