The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839
8vo (208 x 132mm.), FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, PRESENTED BY DICKENS TO LADY HOLLAND IN THE MONTH AFTER PUBLICATION, HIS AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED PRESENTING THIS COPY TO HER AFFIXED TO FRONT ENDPAPER, without half-title, engraved portrait frontispiece by Daniel Maclise in first state (Chapman and Hall imprint present), 39 engraved plates by 'Phiz' (Hablot K. Browne) (Chapman and Hall imprint not present for first four illustrations), p. 123 with corrected reading "sister", p. 160 with corrected "letter", PUBLISHER'S PRESENTATION BINDING in contemporary hard-grained morocco gilt, covers with blind fillets enclosing central urn design on plinth surrounded by spirals ending with floral patterns, spines similarly decorated and lettered in gilt, gilt edges and turn-ins, upper paste-down stamped "Chapman & Hall. 186 Strand", preserved in matching quarter red morocco folding box, minor edge-wear, traces of neat repairs to spine, occasional slight spotting to plates
A FINE PRESENTATION COPY TO ONE OF THE GREAT HOSTESSES OF THE PERIOD.
In his letter to Lady Holland (2 pages, 8vo, no place, Saturday 9th November 1839) Dickens begs her "to accept from me a copy of Nickleby in a dress which will wear better than his every-day clothes", though he claims not to be influenced by "any feeling of vanity or any supposition that you will find in the book, a solitary charm to which you have not already done more than justice. I must not scruple to say that I am actuated by a most selfish feeling, though, for I wish to have the gratification of acknowledging your great kindness, and I do not know how I can better do so than by this poor token; which I venture to send you --not for its own sake (for that would be presumptuous indeed) but simply and solely for the reason I have just mentioned. I beg to be remembered to Lord Holland, and am always, Lady Holland, Faithfully Yours, Charles Dickens."
Dickens first met the celebrated and autocratic hostess Elizabeth Vassall Fox (1770-1845), wife of the 3rd Baron Holland, after being invited to Holland House with Talfourd on 12th August 1838. She famously asked Edward Bulwer, 1st Lord Lytton, beforehand if "Boz was presentable, and became the man of genius..." (see Letters, volume 1, p.412). Upon meeting him she wrote to Talfourd's sister that "we have had the author of Oliver Twist here. He is a young man, very unobtrusive, yet not shy, intelligent in countenance, and altogether prepossessing..." (op.cit., p.415). Lord and Lady Holland were huge admirers of Napoleon Bonaparte, commissioning a bronze bust of him from Antonio Canova and sending supplies of food and books to him on St Helena after his exile there in 1815. Napoleon bequeathed a gold snuffbox to Lady Holland in his will, which she subsequently bequeathed to the British Museum. Lady Holland is also well known for permanently introducing the dahlia to the United Kingdom.
Nicholas Nickleby was published on 23 October 1839.
Lady Holland, presentation letter affixed to endpaper, armorial Holland House bookplate; Christie's, 17 December 1983, lot 411
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
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