OLIVER TWIST. Charles Dickens, Boz!


In Two Volumes. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, successors to Carey & Co., 1839. 2 pp preliminary ads in Vol I; 16 pp terminal ads in Vol II. Original paper-covered boards with rose cloth spines and printed spine labels.

First American Edition. The UK serialization of OLIVER TWIST took place in Bentley's Miscellany from February 1837 through April 1839, with Bentley's three-volume first edition coming out on November 9, 1838. Serialization was likewise taking place (irregularly -- beginning in the middle) in the American version of Bentley's Miscellany, and in addition Lea & Blanchard began issuing illustrated parts in 1838 (copying from the Miscellany). L&B's plan was simply to publish a one-volume edition complete with all 24 Cruikshank illustrations, as soon as possible -- but as the end of 1838 (and the publication of the three-volume edition in London) drew nigh, L&B faced a dilemma: their competitors would soon have access to the three-volume edition.~It is noteworthy that L&B had "signified their desire to differentiate themselves from the ordinary piratical reprinters of Dickens's work in America" by making modest payments to Dickens (50 pounds to Dickens, 60 to Bentley) via their agent in London; this was "not unmingled with self-interest," as it secured slightly-advance proofs unavailable to their competitors -- but they had to hurry to take advantage of this small time advantage. According to Tillotson, L&B first printed their octavo one-volume edition by the second week of December 1838 -- but then did not publish it until 2 February 1839, due to the delay in receiving and reproducing the 24 illustrations. In the third week of December 1838, L&B, with their one-volume edition printed and awaiting illustrations, decided that they must rush an un-illustrated edition through the press and into the public's hands before their competitors (namely William Colyer of New York) could get a copy of the three-volume London edition by sea -- so this two-volume edition hit the streets on 19 December 1838 -- with an apology, on the preliminary leaf, that the Cruikshank illustrations had not yet arrived. (For more detail on all of this see Kathleen Tillotson's magnificent analysis of the 1838-39 Philadelphia editions of OLIVER TWIST -- source of the above quotes.)~This edition has the error that both the last chapter in Vol I and the first chapter in Vol II are numbered XXIX -- with the improper numbering then carrying through to the end of the book. This copy has the only issue point (the preliminary ad leaf) in the first state (signed with an asterisk but no "1").~Condition is, for this cheap hurry-up production, very good. The rose cloth spines are as always faded, and the labels there are rubbed (though mostly still present); the endpapers (each front one bearing the same early signature) are cracked but present and the volumes are tight; the leaves (cheap paper) exhibit the usual amount of foxing. Smith pp 83-87; Podeschi (Yale) A33. Item #13564

Price: $1,750.00

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