A CURIOUS DANCE ROUND A CURIOUS TREE. Charles Dickens.

A CURIOUS DANCE ROUND A CURIOUS TREE.

[London: St. Luke's Hospital, 1860.] Original pale pink wrappers.

First Edition, second and usual issue -- with the final paragraph in bold (not like the rest of the text), with the wrapper pink (not mauve -- though all are today faded), with the front cover title followed by a comma (not by a period), and with the front cover border decorative only at the corners (not all 'round). Dickens describes the wretched conditions inside St. Luke's Hospital ("established in 1751, for the treatment and care of lunatics"), and in particular the "very sad and touching spectacle" of the annual Christmas Ball there (dancing around the Christmas tree).

He actually wrote the original piece in 1852, at which time it appeared in his Household Words (Dickens's authorship was questioned until 1913, when the original manuscript -- in his hand -- turned up). It is here published in book form for the first time, eight years later, when Dickens gave permission for the hospital to use it as a fundraising appeal. The hospital added two items to update the piece: an article about the 1860 Ball from the "Times," plus a brief article "Contrast between 1852 and 1860," in which the hospital asserts that many of the deficiencies cited by Dickens have since been addressed. (The results of the initial mailing were not good -- which is why for this second issue, the final paragraph, the actual appeal, was highlighted in bold.)

This is a fine copy of this very fragile item, with scarcely any wear, soil, or foxing; as usual, the pink wrappers have faded. (Tipped to a corner of the inside front wrapper is an old but hyperbolic catalogue description.) As with almost all copies, there is a vertical crease, because the booklet was folded vertically when the fundraising appeal was mailed out in narrow envelopes. Uncommon in this condition. Podeschi (Yale) B216 (second copy); Carr (U of Texas) B465; Eckel pp 188-191. Housed in a cloth clamshell case lined with felt. Item #14421

Price: $1,250.00

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