A Comic Opera. In Two Acts. The Music by John Hullah. London: Richard Bentley, 1836. Bound in full tan calf with gilt paneled spine and leather labels, all page edges gilt.
First Edition of Dickens's first play to be published (produced on the stage about two months after his "The Strange Gentleman," but published a year earlier).
Dickens's musical collaborator was John Hullah, who was Government Inspector of Musical Education. They had met early in 1835, after Hullah had set to music a portion of an opera called "The Gondoliers," the scene of which was laid in Venice. Dickens objected to writing the libretto on a foreign subject, and a compromise was effected which gave birth to "The Village Coquettes." The opera was accepted by Mr. Braham, manager of the new St. James's Theatre. It had its first presentation on December 6, 1836, with Braham himself in the cast... The play ran nineteen times in London, when it was transferred to Edinburgh and played under the management of Mr. Ramsay, a friend of Sir Walter Scott. [Eckel]
The 71-page book was originally issued in delicate grey boards, which are very seldom seen today. This copy was re-bound (without the boards) quite some time ago in full tan calf, with gilt paneled spine and red and green leather spine labels (subsequently re-backed, with the earlier spine laid back down). Condition is very good, the main flaw being that about half of the "Dickens" spine label has chipped away. Quite a scarce early Dickens item. Gimbel A25; Carr B525; Eckel pp 157-158. Provenance: bookplates of Robert C. May C.E. (of Orwell Lodge, Clapham Park, London), and of [William Proby, 5th] Earl of Carysfort [1836-1909]. Item #13429