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View full screen - View 1 of Lot 124. Dickens, Charles | An extraordinary presentation copy.

Dickens, Charles | An extraordinary presentation copy

Lot Closed

December 16, 09:04 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


Dickens, Charles

American Notes for General Circulation. London: Chapman and Hall, 1842

2 volumes, 8vo (197 x 126 mm). Half-titles, advertisement leaf at front of vol. I, 6pp. advertisements at end of vol. II, inscribed and signed by Dickens on the half-title of vol. I; a few stray spots, some very minor browning. Publisher's reddish-brown cloth, decoratively stamped in blind, spine gilt-lettered, yellow endpapers; cloth slightly sunned, minor wear to joints and spine ends, particularly to vol. II, minor instance of dampstaining to lower board of vol. II. In custom box. 

First edition, first issue (with verso of the contents leaf incorrectly numbered "xvi"), in the primary binding.

An extraordinary presentation copy, inscribed to "Daniel Maclise From his friend Charles Dickens Eighteenth October 1842" one day prior to publication

Daniel Maclise was an Irish painter and illustrator who worked for most of his life in London. From a young age, Maclise had great expectations, and aspired to be a professional artist. His father, however, placed him in employment at the age of 14, at Newenham's Bank in Cork. In 1825, Maclise happened to see Sir Walter Scott, who was traveling through Ireland, and made a quick sketch of the literary giant. This was afterwards lithographed, and became quite popular, leading to a number of commissions. He exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in 1829, and following this, Maclise focused his work more exclusively on historical pictures and occasionally portraits. Maclise painted Dickens around the time the latter began serializing Nicholas Nickleby, and again in 1839 (National Portrait Gallery 1172). By all accounts, the 1839 portrait was astonishingly like the author, and it remains the most convincing image of the young Dickens, as well as one of Maclise's most accomplished works. Of it, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote: "as a likeness perfectly amazing; a looking-glass could not render a better facsimile. Here we have the real identical man Dickens: the artist must have understood the inward Boz as well as the outward before he made this admirable representation of him" (Fraser's Magazine, 1840, XXII:113).

Maclise was one of the first of his closest friends that Dickens went to visit after returning from his tiring and disillusioning trip to the United States in 1842. After an enthusiastic greeting from his children, Dickens dashed off to see William Macready, then quickly to John Forster. Forster—also a close friend of Maclise—was dining out, but he "guessed at once what [his interruption] was when Dickens drove there and sent up word that a gentleman wished to speak to him. Forster came flying out of the house, leaped into the carriage, and began to cry, and did not remember until they had driven several miles on their way to see Maclise that he had left his hat behind him" (Johnson, Charles Dickens, 1952, p.428).

A reunion dinner the following week included Maclise as one of the featured guests, along with Forster, Macready, Cruikshank, and Cattermole. Around this same time, Maclise was completing portraits of Dickens's children. After the reunions subsided, Dickens began work on American Notes, and important source material was returned to Dickens for his use. "He borrowed from Forster, Maclise, Beard, Mitton and Fontblanque the letters that he had written them during his journey, to supplement the journal with their mass of details and profit from their spontaneity of observation" (ibid., pp.429-30). Later that summer, a visit from William Wadsworth Longfellow inspired Dickens to lead the American author on a tour of London's lurid slums. The two were accompanied by Forster and Maclise (and two police officers). Maclise was appalled by the conditions at the Mint lodginghouses, unable to subject himself to the conditions within. Several months later, American Notes was published, and this copy was inscribed for Maclise the day before its official publication.

In American Notes, Dickens expressed his love of Boston, but was critical of the sanitary conditions of American cities generally. Indeed, the further south Dickens travelled, the more disturbed he became. Much of his dissatisfaction would be conveyed through Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), in which the eponymous hero is swindled in a land settlement called Eden. 


Eckel 108-09; Smith II:3; Yale/Gimbel A66


Daniel Maclise (presentation inscription from the author on half-title of Vol. I) — Kenyon Starling (bookplate to box) — William E. Self (The William E. Self Family Collection, Christie's New York, 2 April 2008, lot 84)