Charles Dickens | Nicholas Nickleby, 1839, first edition, presentation copy with letter to Lady Holland
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, AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED PRESENTING THIS COPY TO HER AFFIXED TO FRONT ENDPAPER (2 pages, 8vo, 9 November 1839), 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
"In begging you, my lady Holland, to accept from me a copy of Nickleby in a dress which will wear better than his every-day clothes, I am not 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..."
A FINE PRESENTATION COPY TO ONE OF THE GREAT HOSTESSES OF THE PERIOD.
Elizabeth Vassall Fox, Lady Holland (1770-1845), was a Whig grandee and, as the centre of the Holland House set, one of the great hostesses of the period. Dickens was first invited to Holland House with Thomas Talfourd on 12th August 1838, although Lady Holland took care beforehand to enquire of Edward Bulwer Lytton "if Boz was presentable" (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). Dickens later corresponded with Lady Holland from America and made use of her extensive knowledge of Italy (she was widely held to prefer all things foreign to anything British) when planning his visit to Genoa.
Nicholas Nickleby was published on 23 October 1839.
Smith I:5; The Letters of Charles Dickens: Volume One 1820-39, pp.598-99
Lady Holland, presentation letter affixed to endpaper, armorial Holland House bookplate; Christie's, 17 December 1983, lot 411
minor edge-wear, traces of neat repairs to spine, occasional slight spotting to plates
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