Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club


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DICKENS, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. London: Chapman & Hall, 1837. Thick octavo, early 20th-century full crimson morocco gilt, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in custom slipcase.

First edition, first issue, of one of Dickens’ greatest works, of one of Dickens’ greatest works, with 43 illustrations by Seymour, Phiz, and Buss, handsomely bound by Riviere & Son, with an autograph letter by Dickens regarding employment at his weekly journal tipped in.

“From a literary standpoint the supremacy of this book has been… firmly established… It was written by Dickens when he was 24 and its publication placed the author on a solid foundation from which he never was removed…. It is quite probable that only Shakespeare’s Works, the Bible and perhaps the English Prayer Book exceed Pickwick Papers in circulation” (Eckel, 17). “Never was a book received with more rapturous enthusiasm than that which greeted the Pickwick Papers!” (Allibone I:500). Pickwick was the first volume in which Dickens was acknowledged as the author, rather than using his pen name, “Boz.” Originally issued in 20 parts from April 1836 to November 1837. With 43 illustrations by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne (“Phiz” or “Nemo”), including frontispiece and vignette title page, and with the scarce plates by Robert William Buss at pages 68 and 74, suppressed in later issues. Includes marginal note on page 9 that was suppressed in later issues (Smith I:3). With the following first-issue points: page 341, line 1 correctly reading “inde-licate” and line 5 reading “inscription”; page 342, line 5, with “S. Veller” uncorrected; page 400, line 21, with “this friends”; and page 432, with the “F” in the “OF” of the headline imperfect. With “Directions to Binder”/errata leaf. With half title. Smith I:3. Eckel 17-58. Gimbel A15. The autograph letter signed by Dickens, on stationery from the office of his weekly journal All the Year Round, is to H.G. Adams and reads, in full: “Monday, Nineteenth February, 1866. Dear Mr. Adams: I am thoroughly well pleased to know that my last reading was so useful to the Institution. There is, I am sorry to say, no kind of vacancy here, except for suitable contributors. These are always welcome, always paid for, and always tested by their suitability alone. I have no faith in the preparing of any periodical addressed to the young ones. The greater should include the less; and a good miscellany for grown people should have much in it of interest to growing people. I have no doubt that the lady to whom you refer is already abundantly served. This is not as hopeful a reply to your letter as I could desire to write, but it is the honest truth. Faithfully yours, Charles Dickens.” Volume 11 of the The Letters of Charles Dickens (Pilgrim Edition), in which “the Institution” is identified as the Rochester and Chatam Mechanics’ Institution. Adams was the Institution’s Honorary Secretary for many years. “Dickens was elected president of mechanics’ institutes in Chatham, Birmingham and Reading, and gave readings to raise funds for them” (Leon Litvack, “Charles Dickens and Victorian Education”). Old dealer description and transcription of note laid in.

Plates and text generally quite clean. Marginal closed tear to pages 23-24, restored. Letter with light discoloration to right margin, short splits along folds, one tiny marginal chip. Joints and spine ends lightly rubbed. An about-fine copy, handsomely bound, desirable with Dickens autograph material.

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