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The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.
  • 107598

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DICKENS, Charles.

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.

Published: London: Chapman and Hall, 1837

Stock code: 107598

Price: £975

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition bound from parts, with the two Buss plates present (facing pages 69 and 74), otherwise all plates in early states with page numbers as called for but no titles or imprints, and the vignette title-page with the signboard reading “Veller” (corrected to “Weller” in later issues). Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens’s first novel, transformed the obscure journalist into England’s most famous writer in a matter of months. The first monthly instalment was issued in an edition of 1,000 copies in April 1836. The book became a publishing sensation after the introduction of Sam Weller in chapter 10, the fourth instalment, issued in July 1836, after which the publishers reprinted the earlier instalments so that readers could catch up. For that reason, even in parts, copies are almost impossible to find in uniform first state. By the time the book was issued in November 1837, many textual corrections had been made. Booksellers often list numerous (and confusing) text points that might conceivably apply to a perfect set of Pickwick Papers as originally issued in parts, but all these points could never be found together in the issues in book form. The serial was originally intended to be primarily a vehicle for the cartoons of Robert Seymour, until he committed suicide after the first number was published. Robert William Buss then took over, but he was inexperienced in steel engraving and had to be replaced. The final choice, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), was to be Dickens’s chosen collaborator for the next two decades. For later issues Phiz illustrated parts IV–XX, re-engraved the Seymour plates and entirely replaced the Buss plates.

Octavo. Etched vignette title page, frontispiece, 41 plates by Robert Seymour, R. W. Buss, and H. K. Browne. Slips from bookseller’s catalogues tipped-in to the first blank. Boards a little marked, contents lightly spotted and foxed; an excellent copy.

Bibliography: Smith I, 3.

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