Clerimont, by BRISCOE, C.W.

Clerimont, by BRISCOE, C.W. < >
scarce provincial novel in unusual format

Clerimont, or, Memoirs of the Life and Adventures of Mr. B******. (Written by Himself.) Interspersed with Original Anecdotes of Living Characters. Liverpool, Charles Wosencroft, 1786.

First Edition. 8vo in fours (208 x 120 mm), pp. vi, [7]-351, in contemporary sheep, front joint weak, some general wear to binding, red morocco label lettered in gilt.

A very unusual novel that may in fact be an autobiographical memoir, with the ‘written by himself’ of the title page being, contrary to the literary practice of the time, true. This is the only edition of this provincially printed novel charting the life and adventures of a feckless but charming rogue. Printed in Liverpool, in a single volume in fairly large octavo, an unusual format for a novel, it tantalisingly combines an arch style with the possibility that its claims to being a factual account - that old turkey - might in this case actually be true. Whatever the answer to that tricky question, the romps and romantic escapades of the hero make for a very good read as we follow him through Manchester, Dublin and Liverpool to London.
The Liverpool publisher, Charles Wosencroft, appears not to have published much, at least not much that has survived. Apart from his own work, The Liverpool Directory, for the year 1790, containing an alphabetical list of the gentlemen, merchants, traders, and principal inhabitants, of the town of Liverpool, ‘printed and sold’ by himself in 1790, his other publications were reprints of well-known and popular works. His first publication was Samuel Ancell’s A circumstantial journal of the long and tedious blockade and siege of Gibraltar, published by subscription, Liverpool 1784, of which ESTC lists nine editions printed between 1783 and 1786. This was followed by Lawrence Harlow’s The conversion of an Indian, Liverpool 1785, a best-seller first published in London in 1774 and finally an edition of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Liverpool 1782. The present novel is the exception to the rule: no other edition appears to have been printed anywhere and it appears to elude research: it is even one of the scantest entries in the Garside, Raven & Schöwerling’s bibliography.
With a humorous dedication ‘To his most Potent, Puissant, High and Mighty Serene Highness, The Lord Oblivion’ which begins, ‘Voracious Sir, Without leave, I presume to dedicate the following labors of my pen to you, not like a number of my contemporary brethren, whose works involuntarily fall to your share; no, revered sir, I step out of the common tract of writers, who pretend to consign their works to immortal fame, which, only mistaking, are in reallity [sic] meant for you; but as a benefit, if conferred with an ill grace, loses much of its intrinsic value, so these, my lucubrations, [as no doubt all revolving time will give them into your possession] will come with a much better appearance, presented to you, thus freely, from myself’.

ESTC t68953, at BL, Liverpool, Bodleian and Yale only; OCLC adds Chapel Hill.

Garside, Raven & Schöwerling 1786:19; Block p. 27.

Keywords: English Literature
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