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DICKENS, Charles.

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

With Illustrations by Phiz.

London: Chapman and Hall, 1839 Stock Code: 143166
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Presentation copy in red morocco with accompanying letter, to the society hostess, later his friend, Lady Holland

First edition, presentation copy from the author to Lady Holland in a publisher's presentation binding of red morocco gilt, together with Dickens's original autograph letter signed accompanying the presentation, two pages, mounted by its last page within the front free endpaper.

The presentation letter reads: "In begging you, My Lady Holland, to accept from me a copy of Nickleby in a dress which will wear better than his every-day clothes, I am not influenced by any feeling of vanity or any supposition that you will find in the book, a solitary charm to which you have not already done more than justice. I must not scruple to say that I am actuated by a most selfish feeling, though, for I wish to have the gratification of acknowledging your great kindness, and I do not know how I can better do so than by this poor token; which I venture to send you not for its own sake (for that would be presumptuous indeed) but simply and solely for the reason I have just mentioned. I beg to be remembered to Lord Holland, and am always, Lady Holland, Faithfully Yours, Charles Dickens. Saturday 9th November 1839."

Lady Holland was one of the last great Whig hostesses, central to the brilliant social circle in which Dickens's friend and mentor William Harrison Ainsworth was an accepted literary lion. Dickens had first met Lady Holland on 12 August 1839, she having first checked with Bulwer "if Boz was presentable". After he had visited Holland House that day with Thomas Talfourd, it was agreed that he was socially acceptable. Dickens later corresponded with her when he was in America and relied on her knowledge of Italy when deciding to visit Genoa. Nicholas Nickleby was published in book form on 23 October 1839.

"H. K. Browne prepared 39 illustrations for this novel, as well as the cover for the monthly parts, while the portrait frontispiece was engraved by Finden from a painting by Maclise. Because of the large monthly circulation of the parts, Browne etched as many as four plates, in some cases, of each illustration, and all of them were printed in the initial issue of the parts The first state of the frontispiece and the first four illustrations contain the imprint of Chapman and Hall. The first state of the frontispiece always appears in the monthly parts; the first four illustrations were issued with and without the imprint in the parts, but the plates without imprints did not appear in the earlier issues of the monthly parts, and may, therefore, be termed 'second states'" (Smith I, 5).

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Octavo (208 x 133 mm). Original publisher's presentation binding of red hard-grain morocco gilt, sides with waisted urn on a plinth in gilt surrounded by gilt whorls and spirals, some terminating in small flowers, others with pendents; spine with similar designs enclosing title and author's name, imprint at heel, all in gilt, gilt edges and turn-ins, pale yellow endpapers, gilt edges, unsigned but by James Hayday (1796-1872) for Chapman & Hall, with their name stamp-signed at upper edge of front pastedown. Housed in a red morocco backed folding case.


Engraved portrait frontispiece, 39 engraved plates by Phiz, with plain paper guards, all plates except the frontispiece without the imprint of Chapman and Hall.


Armorial Holland House bookplate, shelf location added in blue pencil. Some skilful repair to joints, very neat restoration to leather at head of spine with a touch of added gilt, minor oxidisation at plate edges, very good.


Eckel pp. 64-5; Smith I, 5.


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