[20-in-19 serial parts] With Illustrations by H.K. Browne. [Complete in the 20-in-19 monthly serial parts.] London: Bradbury and Evans, 1852-1853. Original light blue-green pictorial wrappers.
First Edition, in the original 20-in-19 monthly serial parts that were issued from March 1852 through September 1853 (at the end of which time the novel was published in book form). Written just after DAVID COPPERFIELD and just before HARD TIMES, this is Dickens's famous attack on Chancery, the London legal system -- featuring such characters as the lawyer Tulkinghorn, the claimants Lord and Lady Dedlock, and of course the law firm of Jarndyce & Jarndyce. Though lives come to an end all around it, the case goes on and on, finally concluding when (surprise!) all of the fortune has been devoured by legal fees. Included are forty plates by "Phiz," of which ten are "dark plates" made possible by a new procedure.
As for completeness and condition, this set is A Tale of Two Bleak Houses. The wrappers of all 19 parts are not only "right" (none has been supplied), but they are also just about FINE in appearance -- even those of the first and last part. The front and rear covers are whole and clean, there has been no "improvement" or "sophistication" whatsoever, and wear is limited to an inch or less at the foot of the spine of maybe half a dozen parts. Furthermore, Parts XI through XIX/XX are complete -- all the Bleak House Advertsiers, all the required slips, all of the terminal ads except for the frequent absentee Grace Aguilar in Part XVI. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about the completeness of Parts I through X: someone has excised the majority of the full-page ads, front and rear -- such that only one of these Parts I-X has a complete Bleak House Advertiser, and only two have all the required rear ads. (Curiously, all of the proper slips in these parts remain in place -- as well as the slips in the second half of the novel.) A few of the plates (all present) do exhibit a little foxing or browning in their margins, but that is almost unavoidable. In all, quite a collectible set of BLEAK HOUSE, housed in an attractive felt-lined morocco-backed clamshell case, which bears the book-label of the author M.C. Lang (author of THE BASTARD TREE). Hatton & Cleaver pp 273-304; Smith I pp 79-84. Item #14586