Personal History of David Copperfield

Charles DICKENS   |   Hablot Knight BROWNE

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Personal History of David Copperfield


DICKENS, Charles. The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observations of David Copperfield. London: Bradbury & Evans, May 1849 to November 1850. Twenty parts in nineteen. Octavo, original pale bluish-green printed paper wrappers, neatly respined. Housed in custom chemise and slipcase.

Scarce first edition in the original parts of Dickens' "largely autobiographic" masterpiece, with additional vignette title-page, frontispiece and 38 etched plates by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). An excellent copy in the original wrappers, with most advertisements present. From the library of Danish-American actor and noted bibliophile Jean Hersholt, with his signed bookplate and shelf label.

"The first of Dickens' big books to be written in the first person, and it is looked upon as being largely autobiographic. Though the original sales were comparatively small—not exceeding 25,000—the later popularity more than recompensed for its failure as an early money-maker. With many lovers of the great author's works, David Copperfield ranks as the best of his novels. With a book which gave to the world such characters as Betsy Trotwood, Micawber, the Pegottys and Mr. Dick, it would seem strange if it were otherwise" (Eckel, 75). "It soon became clear that this was his 'masterpiece' although, even so, Dickens himself retained a peculiarly private relationship with the novel" (Ackroyd, 606). "With a comparatively small printing, and because the issues in parts were much read and roughly handled, it is a matter of some difficulty to procure fine, clean and unrepaired sets" (Eckel, 76). Second issue of Part 8 (page 3 of the "Advertiser" with "LIFE" spelled correctly, not "LILE"). With all "Copperfield Advertisers" at the front of each part, though Part 8 is without pp. 5-6 and Part 10 is without pp. 3-4; Part 8 without scarce "Lett's Diaries" slip ("more often than not a missing quantity" according to Hatton & Cleaver), though four of the eight specimen diary leaves are present; Parts 11 and 12 each without one slip to follow plates; Part 12 without pp. 7-8 of "Exhibition of Industry of All Nations" catalogue and final slip at rear; Part 15 without one four-page insert; Part 18 without one slip at rear, Parts 19/20 without two rear slips and eight-page "Waterlow & Sons" insert. It is still safe to say, however, that most advertisements are present. With all 40 plates by iconic Dickens illustrator H.K. Browne, best known as "Phiz." Hatton & Cleaver, 253. Gimbel A121. Eckel, 77. Contemporary owner signatures to a few covers. Danish-American actor and bibliophile Jean Hersholt's copy, with his signed bookplate and shelf label affixed to the inside of the chemise.

Parts I, II and XIX/XX with a few corners repaired, several wrappers with light edge-wear and creasing. Interiors generally clean and fine. An excellent copy in the original wrappers, with a nice provenance.

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Author's full list of books

DICKENS, Charles >
BROWNE, Hablot Knight >