Bleak House. London: Bradbury and Evans, March 1852 – September 1853
8vo (225 x 144mm.), FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL 19/20 PARTS, 40 plates by 'Phiz' (Hablot K. Browne) including ten 'dark plates', all advertisements and slips called for by Hatton and Cleaver present (4pp. version of Waterlow & Sons as called for in part 1, design 3 of Crochet Cotton in part 3, dark green slip in part 5), original printed blue pictorial wrappers, collector's green cloth folding box, plates offset and browned in margins, occasional small tears and fraying, hand-colouring to page 16 of Bleak House Advertiser in part 2, occasional marks to wrappers, some new spines or occasional discreet repairs to spines, some erased ownership signatures to upper wrappers, bookseller's label to upper wrapper of part 13, occasional fraying and loss to extremities
A RARE SET WITH ALL ADVERTISEMENTS AND SLIPS. As noted by Eckel, 'two material innovations were present in the new novel. The author had wisely discarded the lengthy titles which burdened his previous books and accepted the sanity of short ones… The other change was from the "green leaves" as he called his earlier books in parts. In Bleak House he used a distinctive blue cover’. Eckel notes that 30,000 copies of the first part were sold and this eventually rose to more than 40,000. This was despite some not entirely favourable reviews, criticising Dickens' move away from humour to the 'grotesque and contemptible' (Forster felt that the book was "too real to be pleasant"). The public took no notice however. Sales in America rose to 118,000 copies monthly, and all in all Dickens made around £11,000 from the novel. As Robert Patten has written, "the return was not made from an expensive edition with elaborate binding and inflated price; it came from thousands upon thousands of individuals, putting down their shillings month after month in exchange for another thirty-two pages of tightly packed letter-press -- nearly 20,000 words -- and two illustrations" (Charles Dickens and His Publishers, p.234).
"Dickens spoke to the people, and the people responded, and saw that Bleak House is among the greatest of his books"
Hatton and Cleaver, pp. 275-304; Eckel, p. 79-85
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