Description

    The First Collection of Dickens's Letters

    Charles Dickens. The Letters of Charles Dickens. Edited by His Sister-in-Law [Georgina Hogarth] and His Eldest Daughter [Mamie (Mary) Dickens]. In Two [i.e. Three] Volumes. Vol. I. 1833 to 1856. [Vol. II. 1857 to 1870. Vol. III. 1836 to 1870]. London: Chapman and Hall, 1880-1882.

    First edition. Three octavo volumes (8.4375 x 5.5 inches; 214 x 139 mm.). ix, [3], 463, [1, blank]; [4], 464; [6], 308 pages plus 32-page publisher's catalogue, dated November, 1881. Each volume complete with the errata slip bound in at end.

    Bound by Rivière & Son (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper) in full tan polished calf. Covers with gilt triple fillet border and gilt corner ornaments, spines decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments with red and green morocco gilt lettering labels, board edges ruled in gilt, turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt, top edge gilt, others uncut, dark green coated endpapers. Minimal rubbing to extremities, small area of slight discoloration to front cover of Volume I. Occasional minor marginal soiling. Otherwise a fine copy.

    "There have been three large-scale general collections of Dickens's letters. The first, by Georgina Hogarth and Mamie Dickens, was intended as a 'Supplement' to Forster's Life, in the conviction that since no man 'ever expressed himself more in his letters' than Dickens, this would be 'a portrait of himself by himself'. Two volumes were published in 1880, followed by a third in 1882, giving nearly 1,000 letters to 200 correspondents. The completeness as a portrait claimed by the editors was more apparent than real. Many letters about sensitive matters-his family's sponging on him, for example, or Dickens's separation from his wife-were, regrettably if understandably, omitted. Besides, the texts were handled extremely cavalierly (even by the standards of the time), not only by cutting but also by reorganization, inserting of paragraphs into quite other letters, and carelessness over dating...Georgina Hogarth's work in bringing letters into print was part of a family desire both to promote and to control. Not only did the edition present, effectively, a new book by Dickens, but Georgina also suppressed what seemed undesirable representations" (Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens, pp. 329-330). From the H. Barry Morris Collection.

    Gimbel D85 and D93.


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    June, 2008
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