8vo, first English book edition, later issue with 1838 title page, other mixed issue points (see below), presentation copy inscribed by Dickens on the title page to his friend Walter Savage Landor ("Walter Savage Landor | From his warm admirer | Charles Dickens"), Landor's ownership signature in ink on front endpaper, half-title, etched frontispiece and pictorial title-page and 41 other plates by Robert Seymour, R.W. Buss and H.K. Browne (frontispiece in first state, vignette title in second state with sign reading "Tony Veller"), contemporary pebbled green morocco gilt, covers with fillets in gilt and blind, spine decorated with gilt bands and lettered in gilt, gilt edges and turn-ins, pale yellow endpapers, some offsetting and foxing (chiefly to plates and adjacent leaves), edges of binding slightly worn
A very fine inscribed presentation copy. The binding is probably one of the special publisher's bindings advertised in the parts issue of Pickwick, prepared for a number of Dickens' works around this period (also see next lot, Nicholas Nickleby).
The irascible English poet and writer Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), best known as the author of Imaginary Conversations, met Dickens through their mutual friend and advisor John Forster (future biographer of them both) at Lady Blessington's house in January 1840, though they had exchanged messages before this. In a letter to Forster of April 1838 Landor urged his recipient to "tell [Dickens] he has drawn from me more tears and more smiles than are remaining to me for all the rest of the world, real or ideal" (quoted in editors' note on p. 23 of The Letters of Charles Dickens, volume 2, 1840-41, edited by M. House and G. Storey). The same note, alluding to Dickens' and Landor's subsequent meetings in the same year, refers to the present presentation copy (and also the following lot): "In London or at Bath CD gave Landor copies of Pickwick and Nickleby, inscribed 'From his warm admirer Charles Dickens'..." (op.cit.) Dickens and Forster visited Landor in Bath on numerous occasions.
Dickens immortalised Landor's eccentric and pugnacious character in his portrayal of him as Lawrence Boythorn in Bleak House (1852-3), dexterously capturing "Landor's boisterous laugh, stentorian voice, extravagant language, and startling gentleness" (Geoffrey Carnall, Oxford DNB). Landor's literary reputation has fluctuated over the years, and he is now best known for a few brief tender and haunting poems. His life has been characterised as a series of quarrels and lonely wanderings. Much of his inherited wealth was used to equip volunteers for the Peninsular War, more went into an unsuccessful scheme of agricultural and social reform at his Welsh estate Llanthony. He lived in Italy with his wife from 1815 until 1835, when they separated; latterly, having turned over his property to his children he was rescued from poverty by Robert and Elizabeth Browning, enabling him to spend his last years in Florence in comparative tranquility.
This copy has the following points:
Signature "E" is present on p.25; correct reading "holding" in line 29 of p.260, but type loose (as in earlier issues); figure "7" in page number of p.267 correctly aligned; erroneous spelling "inbe-licate" in lines 1-2 of p.341 and erroneous "inscriptino" in line 5; "S. Veller" in line 5 of p.342; correct "his friends" in line 21 of p.400.
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