Item #14401 THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Charles Dickens.


New York: Harper & Brothers, 1870. 2 pp preliminary ads plus 4+4 pp terminal ads dated Oct 1870. Original yellow-brown pictorial wrappers.

Early (second) American edition, published in late September, about three weeks after Fields Osgood's edition -- and about three months after Dickens's death in June left this tale unfinished. The front cover illustration, the same as appeared on the six UK parts, was the work of Charles A. Collins -- Dickens's son-in-law, and Wilkie's brother; the scenes shown formed the basis for the numerous attempts, after Dickens's death, to complete or "solve" the mystery.

Harper had been serializing DROOD in parts, as a monthly Dickens supplement to their Harper's Weekly (but Fields Osgood had earlier paid Dickens an advance for book publication). The Harper serialization -- as well as the fact that this Harper edition came out only in wrappers -- probably explains why Harper's edition is so scarce today: many of their readers had already read the tale serially.

This copy does bear the (earliest and usual) date October 1870 on both the ads and rear cover, and the preliminary list of titles properly ends with No. 349. This copy does NOT have the Dickens portrait leaf, which Smith notes is true with some copies. Copies without that leaf may be a later state, but possibly copies WITH it may be a later state; a third possibility is that some initial buyers removed that leaf (for framing?) in honor of the author who had just died.

Condition is very good, with very little of the wrapper lacking but with a couple of dampstains affecting the front cover and first leaves. This Harper edition is MUCH scarcer than the Fields Osgood edition, for the reasons cited above; this is the first time in 40 years that we have offered it in original wrappers. Smith pp 417-418; curiously not in Podeschi (Yale); Carr (UTexas) B279. Item #14401

Price: $550.00

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