London: Bradbury & Evans, 1852, 1853, 1854. First edition. A Fine copy in original cloth, with publisher's marbled edges and endpapers. Slight bit of sunning to spines, but overall in beautiful, unsophisticated condition. Collation and issue points conforming to Smith. Bookplates of two previous owners to front pastedowns of each. Internally clean and unmarked. Housed in a custom quarter morocco slipcase with chemise. A superior copy, accompanied by an early James F. Drake description.
As the only book Dickens wrote specifically for children, it occupies a unique place in his' oeuvre. "Dickens' intention for the book was made manifest in the dedication, at the beginning of the first volume, to his 'own dear children: Whom I hope it may help, bye-and-bye, to read with interest larger and better books on the same subject.' This makes the purpose clear. Dickens did not intend the book to supplant or rival those books by Keightley or Macaulay that preceded it. The book, rather, is intended by Dickens as an exciting or interesting study of the subject which will whet his children's -- and other children's -- appetites for English history, and is designed to act as a springboard to discovery" (Tearle). Thus, while Dickens doesn't break new ground in uncovering or analyzing history, he uses his novelistic abilities to make past figures feel more real, more exciting, and more present, and to cast long-ago events as relevant to life in his own time. Fine (Item #4125)