“IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES”
DICKENS, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859. Octavo, modern full red morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt.
First edition in book form, first issue, of Dickens’ second historical novel and one of his most enduring works—a powerful tale of self-sacrifice and rebirth against the backdrop of the French Revolution—handsomely bound by Bayntun-Riviere.
"Dickens had always admired Carlyle's History of the French Revolution, and asked him to recommend suitable books from which he could research the period; in reply Carlyle sent him a 'cartload' of volumes… So great was [Dickens'] enthusiasm for the story that it had indeed 'taken in possession' of him… The force of the novel springs from its exploration of darkness and death but its beauty derives from Dickens' real sense of transcendence, from his ability to see the sweep of destiny" (Ackroyd, 858). The last of Dickens' books to be illustrated by H.K. Browne ("Phiz"), with 16 engraved plates by him. "Browne, for 23 years responsible for all the etchings which had so successfully embellished these [Dickens'] books, produced his last drawings for the present work… Bradbury and Evans, the printers of all and publishers of five of Dickens' works as issued in monthly parts, had ceased to act in this dual capacity after completion of Little Dorrit… [resulting] in the return of Chapman and Hall as publishers of this and all succeeding works" (Hatton & Cleaver, 333). This copy with the primary state of p. 213 misnumbered "113" and all other first issue points. Hatton & Cleaver, 333-42. Smith I:13. Eckel, 86-90. Gimbel A143. Occasional pencil underlining.
Interior generally fine, a few leaves of publisher's catalogue at rear (often not present) with corner paper repairs. A very handsomely bound copy.