Our Notes & References
The rare first edition of Tolstoy’s first play: a desirable example in the original wrappers.
The First Distiller is a comedy on the evils of drink. Its first performances, in an open-air theatre, are said to have been so popular that censors became concerned and banned subsequent performances. Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness – the only other play published in his lifetime – was written later in the same year. Tolstoy would have published more plays, but found censors particularly critical of his dramatic works.
Aleksandr Bogodurov (1873-1952, Nizhny Novgorod landowner; stamp and manuscript shelf mark on the front wrapper; stamp in the margin of p.1); ‘O’ (stamp on the front wrapper and margin of p.1); Robert Eden Martin (b. 1940; American lawyer and noted collector of Russian, British and American literature works).