The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. London: Chapman and Hall, 1837
8vo (225 x 140mm.), FIRST BOOK EDITION, engraved frontispiece (stool with six stripes and signature undivided to left of shield), vignette title page (with "Weller", signed "Phiz fect") and 41 engraved plates by Robert Seymour and Hablot K. Browne ("Nemo" and "Phiz"; corrected states, as usual for book edition, with Chapman and Hall imprints), ASSOCIATION COPY, PREVIOUSLY OWNED BY ONE OF THE LAWYERS INVOLVED IN DICKENS' PUBLISHER'S LEGAL CASE SEEKING RELIEF AGAINST THE PIRATE PUBLISHER EDWARD LLOYD, autograph letter signed by Chancery court official loosely inserted, together with unrelated family postcard, original slate fine-diaper cloth, covers stamped in blind, spine stamped in blind and lettered in gilt, pale yellow endpapers, spine very faded and somewhat torn at joints, further wear to cloth on binding, spotting to plates
A FASCINATING ASSOCIATION COPY, ACQUIRED ON DAY OF PUBLICATION BY ONE OF THE LAWYERS INVOLVED IN DICKENS' PUBLISHER'S LEGAL PROCEEDINGS SEEKING RELIEF IN CHANCERY AGAINST PIRATE IMITATIONS OF "THE PICKWICK PAPERS".
Dickens’s enormous success was an immediate target for copyright infringements of every kind, as Edgar Johnson in Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph (1952) relates: “There were Pickwick chintzes, Pickwick cigars, Pickwick hats, Pickwick canes with tassels, Pickwick coats of a peculiar cut and color; and there were Weller corduroys and Boz cabs. There was a Pickwick Comic Almanac, a Pickwick Treasury of Wit, a Sam Weller’s Pickwick Jest Book, and a Pickwickian Songster. There were innumerable plagiarisms, parodies, and sequels—a Pickwick Abroad, by G. W. M. Reynolds; a Posthumous Papers of the Cadger Club; a Posthumous Notes of the Pickwickian Club, by a hack who impudently called himself Bos; and a Penny Pickwick—not to mention all the stage piracies and adaptations.”
On 8 June 1837 Chapman and Hall’s plaint against the Penny Pickwick was brought before the presiding judge, the Vice-Chancellor of England, Sir Lancelot Shadwell. Their counsel, Mr Knight, did not argue on the grounds of copyright infringement, as “re-originations” were too easily defensible under existing copyright law, but claimed that the Penny Pickwick was a “fraudulent imitation of a work calculated to deceive a portion of mankind”. Lord Shadwell felt, however, that no intelligent person could be deceived: “the two works were so exceedingly dissimilar, that nothing but the grossest ignorance and unobservance on the part of persons intending to purchase a work which had delighted the world for nearly a year could allow them to purchase the other.”
Loosely inserted is an autograph letter signed, dated 8 June, the day of the case, from the Chancery court official Robert Eden to his brother Rev. the Hon. William Eden: “… I have little interesting to relate except that in the course of my official duties I had to take some Affadavits in support of an Injunction to restrain a Piracy of the Copyright of the Pickwick Papers & I had to write my name on several of the Pseudo Pickwicks as Exhibits. It is impossible to say where this will end…”
The lawyer Robert Henley Eden, Baron Henley (1789-1841), of 19 Whitehall Place, Middlesex, held the role of Master in Chancery and was also a Member of Parliament. In 1830 he succeeded his father in the Irish peerage as second Baron Henley, and subsequently married the sister of the Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, becoming Master in Chancery in March 1826. His chief professional focus was the reform of the bankruptcy laws (something very much shared with Dickens). At the time of the case in Chancery, serial publication of Pickwick was not yet complete, but Henley acquired this copy on publication day, 17 November 1837, and gave it to his brother William. A manuscript note in ink on the front pastedown states "Memorandum, My Brother as Master in Chancery was called upon to certify the Copyright of this Work and having perused it gave me this Book." The front free endpaper has the presentation ink inscription in Henley’s hand, “W.E. d.d. H., Nov 17, 1837”.
Dickens dedicated Pickwick Papers to the dramatist and politician Thomas Noon Talfourd (see presentation copy of Barnaby Rudge, lot 74), primarily because Talfourd as a Member of Parliament had introduced a copyright bill in the House of Commons in 1836. Talfourd was later the driving force behind the 1842 Copyright Amendment Act, and acted for Dickens when he successfully sued Richard Egan Lee and John Haddock for plagiarism of A Christmas Carol.
William Eden’s oldest surviving child was Arthur Eden (1825-1908), Vicar of St Mary's, Ticehurst, East Sussex, from 1851, and an unrelated postcard addressed to Arthur from the Revd G. W. Pennethorne, of Heathfield, East Sussex, post-marked 8 April 1889, is also loosely inserted.
Smith I:3; Joseph J. Beard, Everything Old is New Again: Dickens to Digital, 2004
Robert Henley Eden, Baron Henley (1789-1841), acquired on date of publication, 17 November 1837 and given to his brother William Eden, inscription in Robert's hand on front endpaper and note in William's hand on upper paste-down; his son Arthur Eden, postcard addressed to him loosely inserted
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