Illustrated by Phiz. London: Chapman & Hall, 1845. Original olive-green cloth with gilt-decorated spine.
First Edition of this children's book about Irish peasants during a cholera epidemic in County Clare -- modeled on the Christmas books of Charles Dickens, at that time coming out annually, and quite the rage. Included are four plates (including the frontispiece), plus vignettes in the text, by "Phiz" -- Hablot K. Browne. The imitation of Dickens was quite intentional: Chapman & Hall had published Dickens's first two Christmas books (A CHRISTMAS CAROL and THE CHIMES) in December 1843 and 1844, but they then lost Dickens to Bradbury & Evans beginning with THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH in 1845. C&H enlisted Charles Lever, and the same illustrator, to create this book as competition for THE CRICKET.
This copy is in one of the two later (or at least less-expensive) binding states, without a gilt vignette on the front cover, without gilt decoration on the lower half of the spine, and without gilt page edges. It is in very good-plus condition (minor wear at the spine's edges, one endpaper cracking, some foxing on plates). Sadleir 1420; Wolff 4103.
Provenance: this copy belonged to the very author whom Lever was here imitating -- Charles Dickens -- with his recumbent-lion bookplate, plus the 1870-dated one put into the books of his library after he died that June. This is quite likely the greatest possible association copy for this title: one cannot but wonder what Dickens thought of this competing book put forth by his old publisher, as he leafed through this very copy. Item #14582