Oliver Twist; or, the Parish Boy's Progress. By "Boz". London: Richard Bentley, 1838
8vo (203 x 124mm.), FIRST EDITION, 3 volumes, etched frontispieces and 21 other plates by George Cruikshank, FIRST ISSUE with 'Fireside' plate in volume 3, half-titles to volumes 1 and 2 only (as called for), 4pp. publisher's advertisements at end of volume 1, 2pp. publisher's advertisements at beginning of volume 3, original publisher's reddish brown fine-diaper cloth, upper and lower covers with arabesque design in blind, lettered in gilt on spine (without imprint), light yellow endpapers, collector's brown cloth chemises and folding case, occasional spotting and browning, bindings slightly faded on spines, head and foot of spines slightly frayed, minor splitting to hinges in volume 1
An exceptionally clean copy of the first issue of the first edition. Eckel notes that copies with the imprint lacking on the spine "must have been of the very earliest form of the binding". This copy also includes the "fireside" plate in volume 3 (replaced by the "church" plate "in later copies).
This copy includes an AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED with initials ("CD") to George Dolby (1831-1900), the manager of Dickens' readings from 1866 (including his exhausting American tour), desiring a meeting about his Income Tax return, proposing dining venues and noting "Scott is here looking as if he had come express out of a cheerful Barber's window", 1 page, 8vo, headed stationery of Gads Hill Place, 3 August 1868, tipped-in to volume 1; together with addressed envelope, tipped-in to volume 2. Dolby, "a big man, full of energy, optimism , and know-how, and talkative, with a stammer he bravely disregarded" (Tomalin, p.353) did much to cheer the author in his later years, and they became close friends: "Dolby's Dickens is the boys' Dickens, the Pickwickian Dickens, at ease with his male companions and masculine pleasures. They laughed and joked together like boys..." (op.cit.). Appropriately enough, it was Dickens' compulsive reading of the murder scene from Oliver Twist (when Sikes kills Nancy), which the author read 28 times betwen January 1869 and March 1870, electrifying and horrifying his audience in equal measure, which prompted Dolby to intervene, trying to persuade his "Chief" to drop it in favour of quieter readings, to save his health. Scott is presumably Henry Scott, Dickens' valet. Both Dickens and Scott stayed at Dolby's house near Ross in Herefordshire in January 1869.
Smith I:4; Eckel pp. 59-62; cf Sadleir 696; Carter Binding Variants pp. 107-108
Vivian L. Henderson, bookplate
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