A Weekly Journal. With which is incorporated Household Words. [In Eleven Volumes.] London: [Office of "All The Year Round"], 1859-1864. Original blind-stamped olive green or olive brown cloth.
First Appearance in Print of these two major novels. This is a set of the first eleven volumes (comprised of the weekly numbers from April 1859 to August 1864) of this periodical founded and edited by Charles Dickens. (There would be a total of twenty volumes, ending in late 1868, twenty months before Dickens's death.) All The Year Round was issued each week, without separate wrappers or ads; at the end of each 26-week period, the complete issues were available for purchase bound in this cloth, priced at 5s.6d.
Dickens had earlier been the editor and majority owner of the periodical Household Words since 1850. In 1859 he became embroiled in a bitter dispute with Bradbury & Evans, its printer and minority owner (regarding Dickens's own infidelity with his wife). Unable to have his way, he threatened to withdraw from it and start a rival periodical; when B&E failed to capitulate, he did so - creating All The Year Round.
In order to start off with a bang, Dickens began the very first issue with the serialization of his own new novel A TALE OF TWO CITIES (its first appearance: this novel was also issued in monthly parts, but running about a month behind ALL THE YEAR ROUND). This was immediately followed by the first appearance of the great mystery THE WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins (his son-in-law's brother); this in turn was soon followed by the first appearance of Dickens's own GREAT EXPECTATIONS (which was not otherwise published serially). Three of the great novels of the 19th Century, one after another in the same weekly journal! Other serialized novels within these volumes include NO NAME by Wilkie Collins, A DARK NIGHT'S WORK by Elizabeth Gaskell, A DAY'S RIDE by Charles Lever, A STRANGE STORY by Bulwer-Lytton and VERY HARD CASH by Charles Reade.
In addition to A TALE OF TWO CITIES and GREAT EXPECTATIONS, these volumes include numerous other Dickens contributions. One group, appearing in ATYR during 1860, is all 16 of the semi-autobiographical essays which a year later would be published (converted into 17) as THE UNCOMMERCIAL TRAVELLER; a further 11 appeared in ATYR during 1863. There are also nine shorter pieces (see Eckel for a list), including "The Poor Man and His Beer" and "The Tattlesnivel Bleater." Finally, each December there was an "Extra Christmas Number" of ATYR, co-written by Dickens, which sometimes (but not always) would be included in these semi-annual volumes: in this set, Vol 2 includes "The Haunted House," Vol 6 has "Tom Tiddler's Ground," Vol 8 has "Somebody's Luggage," and Vol 10 has "Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings" (Vol 4 lacks "A Message from the Sea").
The volumes are generally in very good condition. Some of the endpapers are cracked and have been reglued (it was not until later in the series that the publisher began using stronger endpapers). There is also wear at some of the spine ends. That said, all eleven volumes are still in the original cloth -- which was too fragile a binding for such hefty volumes, with the result that most sets seen today were at some point rebound in half-calf. In all, this is a desirable set of a vital literary periodical. To buy the first editions A TALE OF TWO CITIES and GREAT EXPECTATIONS in original cloth would require an investment of $60,000-$100,000; here are their earlier appearances in original cloth, at a small fraction of the cost. Gimbel E9; Carr B574(2) (in half calf); see Eckel pp 194-7. Item #14336