Sketches By "Boz", Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People [First Series] and Second Series. London: John Macrone, 1836-1837, Comprising
Sketches by "Boz", Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People. [First Series]. London: John Macrone, 1836, 12mo (199 x 122mm.), 2 volumes, FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR'S FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK, PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY DICKENS TO HIS OLDEST FRIEND THOMAS BEARD ("Thomas Beard Esq | from his sincere friend | The Author"), etched frontispieces and 14 plates by George Cruikshank, original publisher's dark olive-green embossed leaf-patterned cloth, spines gilt with decorative shield enclosing lettering, yellow endpapers, some slight offsetting of plates, occasional spotting, endpapers slightly damp stained, front free endpaper and frontispieces partly loose, recased with backstrips expertly restored, slight wear to boards; together with
Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People. Second Series. London: John Macrone, 1837 , 12mo (197 x 120mm.), FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE without list of plates at Contents, half-title, etched frontispiece 'Seven Dials' with tissue guard, pictorial title and 8 plates by George Cruikshank, each with 'Vol. III', 20pp. publisher's advertisements dated December 1836 at end, original publisher's speckled pink cloth, covers with central wreath and linear border in blind, spine lettered in gilt within with black frame, blind-stamped decorative panels and borders, yellow endpapers, plates offset, some occasional browning, cloth faded, recased with part of original backstrip laid down, lacking publisher's imprint at foot, 3 volumes preserved within collector's green cloth folding chemise and morocco-backed slipcase.
Thomas Beard, a fellow reporter on the Morning Chronicle, was Charles Dickens' oldest friend and best man at his wedding. Dickens first met him in his early twenties and Beard acted in the theatricals the aspiring author put on in his family's upstairs lodgings at 18 Bentinck Street. Five years older than Dickens Beard was a quiet, steady and reliable Sussex man, always ready to help when asked, and formed part of a group of friends the young author took with him on long tramps, rides, river trips and evening parties in the 1830s, with much companionable smoking and drinking. Dickens chose Beard as godfather for his first child Charley, born in January 1837. Beard's brother, Francis, was Dickens' physician and was present at his death.
Although Charles Dickens' first published book proved extremely popular, with four issues of the First Series being printed in rapid succession, Dickens' share of the profits was only £400, with Macrone receiving ten times as much. With the publication of Pickwick Papers also proving a great success, and Oliver Twist starting to appear in Bentley's Miscellany, Dickens realised he could fare better with another publisher. Backed by Chapman Hall, he negotiated purchase of the copyright of Sketches by Boz, leading to its publication in parts from November 1837.
"It is an irrefutable fact that the book first published by an author who subsequently attained great eminence is the most difficult of acquirement in good condition. This is acutely true of Dickens' first book" (Eckel, p.11). This is one of a few copies with no list of illustrations at the Contents and with 'Vol. III' unerased from the plates, representing certainly the earliest, and possibly suppressed, issue.
Smith I: 1, 2; Eckel pp. 11-13; Sadleir 699, 700
Thomas Beard, presentation inscription from the author; acquired in April 1930 by Comte Alain de Suzannet (autograph note recording purchase in his annotated 1934 Lausanne catalogue), bookplate, sale of his collection at Sotheby's, 22 November 1971, lot 4.
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
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