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MATHEWS, Charles.

Memoir of Charles Mathews, comedian.

By Mrs. [Anne] Mathews.

London: Richard Bentley, 1838-9 Stock Code: 35334
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Motley binding

First edition, in an extraordinary binding no doubt intended to invoke the traditional motley of the jester. The most famous comedian of his day, Mathews's powerful influence on Charles Dickens's stylistic methods of comic characterization has long been recognized. Mathews's monopolylogues, farces in which the actor played every character, provided the template for Dickens's technique as a public reader.

This biography of the actor (1776-1835) by his second wife, Anne Jackson, whom he married in 1803, is the principal source for the detail of Mathews's life and career. At this date, Richard Bentley was also Dickens's publisher.

The boards of each volume have been covered in different colours: dark red/tan for vol. I; tan/dark green for vol. II; scarlet/olive green for vol. III; and olive green/scarlet for vol. IV. The spines match the front boards, with onlaid panels of various colours.

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4 volumes, octavo. Near-contemporary full hard-grain morocco of various colours, covers with gilt panel borders, ornaments at inside corners; spine compartments with variously coloured onlaid panels ruled around in gilt, lettered and numbered in two; disparate marbled endpapers in vols. I-II, plain endpapers in vols. III-IV, gilt edges, silk bookmarks.


Engraved frontispiece in each volume, 12 plates (all 5 in vol. III are double-page); errata leaves in prelims in vols. I-II. Bookplates neatly removed from front pastedowns.


A little rubbing, an excellent set.


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