The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.Philadelphia : 1842 Stock Code: 90110
NotesPresentation copy, inscribed by Dickens to William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), editor of the New York Evening Post and a leading poet of his generation: "William Cullen Bryant From his friend and admirer Charles Dickens", signed with his characteristic lavish underscores. Dickens met Bryant for their first private audience on his American tour on Tuesday 22 February 1842 and presented him with a gift of six books, all American editions of his own works. Bryant reciprocated by presenting Dickens a copy of this own The Fountain and other Poems, his inscription using the same form of words (that copy later in the Stephen H. Wakeman collection, sold American Art Association, April 1924, lot 26, 400). Bryant was well-disposed to Dickens, at that time the most famous living author in the world, but he, like many other Americans, was dismayed by the criticisms Dickens expressed in his American Notes (1842) and in the American chapters of Martin Chuzzlewit (1844). However, he recovered sufficiently to visit Dickens as an old friend on his return to America in 1867.
The fact that this is an American edition of Dickens's first publishing success is evocative: Dickens had strong feelings on the contentious issue of international copyright, and the subject hung over the whole trip. He mentioned it himself several times during his public engagements, eventually drawing on himself the wrath of the American press. Lea and Blanchard (successors to Cary and Lea) were Dickens's "official" American publishers and had prepared for his visit by reprinting his works to date, but the American economy was in the middle of a depression, general fiction could only be sold in the cheapest possible formats, and the cash-strapped publishers were not eager to further erode their profits by paying royalties to foreign authors.
Large octavo. Original brown vertical grain cloth, covers blind-stamped, spine with figure and title in gilt (stained, worn), inscribed to Bryant "from his friend and admirer, Charles Dickens". Housed in a brown quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.
Provenance: by descent from the recipient.
Substantial dampstaining to top edges of boards, also affecting contents but to a lesser extent, head and tail of spine chipped, wormholes to joints, boards rubbed and scuffed, ring stain to front board, some spotting and oxidisation of plates, sporadic foxing and tanning to text.
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