New York: E.P. Dutton, 1871. First Edition. 8vo. 296 pp. + 4 pp. ads at end ("New Books to be Published in the Fall of 1871" which also includes the present title). Original publisher's green cloth, blocked and gilt, abrasions on front fore-corner and upper joint, affecting cloth, other binding extremities worn, spine slightly leaning. Internally very good. Very good. Item #3564
Presentation copy of the first edition, inscribed in the year of publication: "To Mrs. Ruggles, with regards of the Author. Hudson, N.Y., Nov. 1871. Fascinating and well written travel account by a single woman traveling alone in Cuba (at the time she was 38 years old). The author (1833-1909) published a number of books under the pseudonym W.M.L. Jay (see below).
Richard E. Morris observes: "W.M.L. Jay submitted that the 'civil law of Cuba is kinder to the slave than ever our own was.' She went on to ask, however, 'How is a plantation negro, working all day long under the eye and whip of a driver, and locked into quarters at night, to bring these laws to bear?' It was a legitimate question to which no answer was given." (cited in "Hosts and guests in early Cuba tourism," in: Journal of Tourism History, 2016, p. 16).
Leonardo Depestre Catony gives an excellent description of Woodruff's book, here translated: "The American traveler and writer Louisa Mathilde (sic) Woodruff wrote a book about Cuba that was the result of her stay in this country during the winter of 1870 to 1871 and that she titled 'My Winter in Cuba.' The volume was published in New York, in 1871, and did not go unnoticed, since its author - who frequently used the pseudonym of W.M.L. Jay - was emboldened to write others (not translated into Spanish), whose titles were Shiloh, The Daisy Seekers in 1885, Life Sunny Side in 1886, and Bellevue in 1891. The author, born in 1833, was 38 years old when she arrived in Havana on the Eagle steamer from New York in December 1870. The country enchants her from the first moment. The climate, the vegetation, the life that bustles, dazzle eyes accustomed to the harsh northern winter. All this is perceived in sympathetic descriptions. She stayed at the Telegrafo Hotel - which today survives, remodeled, in the central Paseo del Prado - and from there she embarks on her tours on foot, something that draws the attention of others because it is not usual for a woman alone and without a car in the city. She stops in the Plaza de Armas, in the commercial establishments - fisheries, shops, cigarette stores - observes the behavior of Cubans and Cuban women, criticizes this or that and does not fully share the customs that she sees, nor the control and the obstacles imposed by the Spanish metropolis, nor does she understand the ritual of Catholicism and parishioners. 'My Winter in Cuba' focuses its descriptions on the cities of Matanzas and Havana. The author visits the plantations of the Santa Sofía sugar mill; there she is moved by the way slaves live, with 'hardly a place to eat and sleep, where slaves and coolies are taken at night like sheep to the stable and locked there, until the call from the morning to work.' When she returns to Havana, and before leaving, she visits the Regla, Marianao, Puentes Grandes, Guanabacoa, all on the outskirts of the city. She will carry with her enough experiences for the book, even when it overlooks the war situation that a large part of the Island is experiencing, involved in the struggle for its independence." (translated from Catony's blog at Emisario Habana Radio online at habanaradio: "Louisa Mathilde Woodruff," posted 17 October 2018).