First Edition of Edwin Drood in the Original Cloth

    Charles Dickens. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With Twelve Illustrations by S. L. Fildes, and a Portrait. London: Chapman and Hall, 1870.

    First edition. Bound from the parts, with stab-holes visible. Octavo (8.625 x 5.625 inches; 219 x 142 mm.). vii, [1, list of illustrations], 190, [2, advertisements] pages plus the first issue 32-page publisher's catalogue, dated Aug. 31, 1870. Frontispiece portrait of Dickens ("Engraved by J.H. Baker, from a Photograph taken in 1868, by Mason & Co."), steel-engraved vignette title by J. Brown, and twelve wood-engraved plates, two by the Dalziel Brothers and ten by Charles Roberts, all after Samuel Luke Fildes.

    Publisher's primary binding (Carter A) of deep yellowish green fine bead-grain cloth. Front cover decoratively stamped in black and gilt and lettered in gilt within an outer sawtooth border surrounding a thin double line border. Back cover decoratively stamped in black with a centered shield which contains a design of flowers and leaves within a thin triple line and thick single line border. Spine decoratively stamped in black and gilt and lettered in gilt. All edges sprinkled dull red. Original pale greenish yellow coated endpapers. Just slightly skewed, some wear to corners and spine extremities. Some light foxing. Leaf [A]4 (pp. vii/[viii] list of illustrations) detached. Embossed stamp of W. H. Smith & Son, Strand, London, on front free endpaper. A very good copy.

    "Dickens began writing his last and unfinished story in August, 1869. It was his purpose to have much of the novel written before publication began. He found writing to be hard work, though there are few of his stories which are superior in the matter of composition...The solution of the plot was never disclosed and this stamps 'Drood' as one of the best unfinished mystery stories in literature. An approximate approach to any sort of a conclusion rested in the pictorial designs of the green wrapper, yet they rather added to the confusion. An endless number of solutions, so called, were published, without clearing the situation. After Dickens had written six parts, one-half of which having been published, he died June 9, 1870" (Eckel).

    "The Mystery of Edwin Drood appeared originally in six monthly parts from April-September 1870. It was published in book form on August 31, 1870" (Smith I, p. 117, note 6). From the H. Barry Morris Collection.

    Carter, Binding Variants, pp. 108-109 (describing the cloth as fine-diaper rather than bead-grain). Eckel, pp. 96-98. Gimbel A155. Sadleir 694. Smith I, 16.

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