AUSTIN, William. ~ Haec Homo: wherein the Excellency of the Creation of Woman, is described by way of an Essay … London: by Richard Olton, for Ralph Mabb, and are to be sold by Charles Greene [engraved title gives ‘For H. Blunden’], 1638.
12mo (130 × 72 mm), pp. , 189, , pagination includes additional engraved title. Wants engraved portrait frontispiece. Woodcut initials and 4 illustrations. Small worm track/hole towards inner margins of some 30 pages, affecting text, but not making it illegible. Early nineteenth-century English mottled calf, gilt, by the Comte de Caumont with his small yellow ticket, manuscript shelf mark. Joints just starting at head. Early ownership inscription to title ‘Thomas Smith pr. 9d. 1686’.
Second edition (first 1637) of this rare proto-feminist essay, probably first written around 1620 in response to the misogynist pamphlet Hic mulier, or, The Man-Woman. Austin’s title Haec Homo is an epicene (ungendered or binary) construction which joins a female definite article (Haec) with the masculine noun homo (man) to introduce the author’s thesis that men and women share common humanity as well as ‘the same reasonable soule; and, in that, there is neither hees, or shees.’ It was dedicated to ‘Mistress Mary Gifford’ and both first and second editions were issued with an engraved portrait of her, which is lacking in this copy (and in the EEBO copy). The book includes four woodcut illustrations of a ‘Vitruvian woman’. This copy was rebound in the first decades of the nineteenth century by Auguste Marie Comte de Caumont, an aristocratic French emigré who worked as a bookbinder at addresses around Soho, London for more than 20 years from 1790. ‘He is considered a very great binder, in an age when English bookbinding was temporarily at a high level, and actually far ahead of contemporary French binding’ (Ramsden, French Bookbinders 1789-1848, p. 49). This example of his work bears his Gerrard Street address, his final workshop before returning to France around 1814-15. Interestingly there is no evidence that he had experience of bookbinding before leaving France.
STC 975. ESTC: BL (lacks letterpress title), Cambridge (lacks leaf A4 and engraved title), Folger (lacks letterpress title and portrait), LC (lacks letterpress title), Illinois (lacking portrait), Minnesota, Yale.