"WHETHER I SHALL TURN OUT TO BE THE HERO OF MY OWN LIFE…": FIRST EDITION OF DAVID COPPERFIELD
DICKENS, Charles. The Personal History of David Copperfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1850. Thick octavo, contemporary three-quarter light brown calf, raised bands, dark brown morocco spine label, marbled boards, endpapers and edges. $3000.
First edition, first issue in book form, of Dickens' "most popular success," with 40 etchings by Hablôt Knight Browne ("Phiz"), including frontispiece, vignette title page and the second of Browne's famous "dark plates."
"With many lovers of the author's works David Copperfield ranks as the finest of his writings. With a book which gave to the world such characters as Betsy Trotwood, Micawber, the Pegottys and Mr. Dick…. it would be strange if it had been otherwise" (Eckel, 77). "Dickens and Browne are the most celebrated author-artist team in the history of English book illustration," and Copperfield was their "most popular success" (Hodnett, 111-12). It contains the second of Browne's so-called "dark plates" ("The River," at page 482— the first dark-plate appeared in Dombey and Son), created by a machine process that tints the etched plate so as to heighten the contrast between black and white, anticipating some of the techniques of white-line engraving (Johannsen, Phiz, 309). David Copperfield was originally published in 20 parts from May 1849 to November 1850. First issue, with date present on engraved title page and six-line errata leaf on page [xv]; with all first-issue points listed in Smith, except on page 132, line 20, "screwed" appears instead of "screamed." Bound with half title. Without publisher's advertisements at rear. Eckel, 77-78. Smith I:9. Gimbel A122. Armorial bookplate of William Slaney Kenyon-Slaney, (born William Kenyon, 1847-1908), India-born English sportsman, soldier and politician; gift inscription to William Kenyon, 1856. Small bookseller label (Henry Sotheran Ltd).
A clean and handsome copy in exceptionally good condition.