Looking Backward 2000-1887, Edward Bellamy (1888), True First Edition RARE. The book’s owner WH Wright, was a union labor newspaper editor and creator of the “Kansas Kritic” in Concordia, Kansas,
Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is a utopian novel by Edward Bellamy, a journalist and writer from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; it was first published in 1888. This book laid the early foundations for the socialism movement taking place in the United States today (something we don’t connect with in any way, but maybe a collector that believes in these ideals will)
In Looking Backward, a non-violent revolution had transformed the American economy and thereby society; private property had been abolished in favor of state ownership of capital and the elimination of social classes and the ills of society that he thought inevitably followed from them. In the new world of the year 2000, there was no longer war, poverty, crime, prostitution, corruption, money, or taxes. Neither did there exist such occupations seen by Bellamy as of dubious worth to society, such as politicians, lawyers, merchants, or soldiers. Instead, Bellamy’s utopian society of the future was based upon the voluntary employment of all citizens between the ages of 21 and 45, after which time all would retire. Work was simple, aided by machine production, working hours short and vacation time long. The new economic basis of society effectively remade human nature itself in Bellamy’s idyllic vision, with greed, maliciousness, untruthfulness, and insanity all relegated to the past.
It was the third largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It influenced many intellectuals, and appears by title in many socialist writings of the day. “It is one of the few books ever published that created almost immediately on its appearance a political mass movement”.
In the United States alone, over 162 “Bellamy Clubs” sprang up to discuss and propagate the book’s ideas. Owing to its commitment to the nationalization of private property and the desire to avoid use of the term “socialism”, this political movement came to be known as Nationalism — not to be confused with the political concept of nationalism. The novel also inspired several utopian communities.
Bellamy’s book, gradually planned throughout the 1880s, was completed in 1887 and taken to Boston publisher Benjamin Ticknor, who published a first edition of the novel in January 1888. Initial sales of the book were modest and uninspiring, but the book did find a readership in the Boston area, including enthusiastic reviews by future Bellamyites Cyrus Field Willard of the Boston Globe and Sylvester Baxter of the Boston Herald.
Shortly after publication, Ticknor’s publishing enterprise, Ticknor and Company, was purchased by the larger Boston publisher, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., and new publishing plates were created for the book. Certain “slight emendations” were made to the text by Bellamy for this second edition, released by Houghton Mifflin in September 1889.
In its second release, Bellamy’s futuristic novel met with enormous popular success, with more than 400,000 copies sold in the United States alone by the time Bellamy’s follow-up novel, Equality, was published in 1897. Sales topped 532,000 in the US by the middle of 1939. The book gained an extensive readership in Great Britain, as well, with more than 235,000 copies sold there between its first release in 1890 and 1935.