EVENINGS OF A WORKING MAN, Charles Dickens, John Overs.


[a "probably unique" binding] being the Occupation of His Scanty Leisure: with a Preface relative to the Author, by Charles Dickens. London: T.C. Newby, 1844. 3 pp ads. Original blind-stamped olive green cloth, spine lettered in gilt.

First Edition. Overs was a carpenter who "had shown some literary ability" [Eckel], but was now fatally ill with tuberculosis; Dickens assisted him in getting his writings published, as a financial aid for Overs's soon-to-be widow and children. (The book is dedicated to the doctor who was caring for Overs.) Dickens's nine-page Preface exhorts readers (a bit patronizingly) to accept "working men" into the class of literary aesthetes. The book itself undoubtedly was partly designed by Dickens, as both the red-and-blue-ink title page and the original embossed brown cloth and gilt page edges (for the standard cloth binding) bear a definite resemblance to his own A CHRISTMAS CAROL, then just published; it was also Dickens who recommended the publisher Newby [Carr A32]. (Incidentally, in 1844 the publisher T.C. Newby was an "unscrupulous... incorrigible rogue" [Lathbury] of little account; three years later, though still a rogue, he would hit it big with WUTHERING HEIGHTS and with Anthony Trollope's first novel.)

As noted above, the standard binding for this book is brown cloth with gilt page edges; this copy, however, is in blind-stamped olive green cloth, with the page edges plain; one of the former owners (see list below) has penciled "uncut -- probably unique." Condition is very good-plus (some wear at the spine edges, a few marks and droplet-marks). Podeschi (Yale) B151; Carr (U of Texas) B606 (pink cloth); Eckel pp 146-147 (nobody cites this binding).

The likely unique-ness of this copy accounts for the remarkable provenance of this copy: after the armorial bookplates of John Ashton and of C.E. Stewart, this volume went via Maggs Bros to Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate), then to Kenyon Starling (bookplate), then to William Self (bookplate), and finally to Lawrence Drizen (no bookplate). Item #14419

Price: $975.00

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