Sketches by Boz (Presentation copy)
London: John Macrone, 1836.
London: John Macrone, 1836. First edition. 2 volumes, octavo. In the original green cloth, with decorated gilt titles direct to the head of both spines. Collated and complete with 16 illustrated plates by Cruikshank. Bookplates of the collector William E. Self. Spines a little creased, corners rubbed, a few light marks to sides; inner hinges neatly repaired; a few mild spots to some leaves and plates in both volumes, but on the whole clean. An exceptional set in very good condition.
First edition, first impression, of Dickens’s first book, presentation copy, inscribed in the month of publication on the title page, “William Thomson, with the author’s regards, February 1836”. William Thomson was the maternal uncle of Dickens’s wife Catherine Hogarth, with whom Dickens had worked in helping to correct the manuscript of Thomson’s work Two Journeys through Italy and Switzerland in preparation for it being published by John Macrone, Dickens’s first publisher. A letter to Thomson (housed in the New York Public Library, but reproduced here in photostat and laid in), dated 27 Feb. 1836 from Furnival’s Inn (the same month and place printed at the end of of the preface), not only evinces the gift of “YOUR copy of ‘Boz’” to be called for “on your return to town”, but also gives a charming domestic cause for the inscription, made as part of an exchange. Dickens continues: “Catherine is very anxious to have for her establishment a little Toddy-water kettle ... like the one they have in York Place... it appears that it must be bought from Scotland... Will you do me the favor to put one of these desirable kettles in your Portmanteau and ‘charge the same to my account’?” Dickens’s Sketches by Boz were first published in newspapers and magazines between December 1833 and December 1836, and only issued complete in periodical form in 20 monthly parts from November 1837 and June 1839, after Pickwick Papers. The first book-form edition, first series (which includes five new sketches published for the first time), is therefore the first work by Dickens to be issued substantially complete as a whole work, preceding the parts issue. (Item #809)