Description[Charles Dickens]. Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi. London: Richard Bentley, 1838. First edition, first issue.
Bound in pink embossed cloth and with the final plate ("The Last Song," facing p. 238 in Volume II) without the added "grotesque" border. Two octavo volumes. xix, [1, blank], [1, "Embellishments"], [1, blank], 288; ix, [1, blank], 263, [1, printer's imprint] pages plus 36-page publisher's catalogue. Engraved frontispiece portrait (with tissue guard) of Grimaldi by W. Greatbatch after a painting by S. Raven in Volume I and twelve etched plates by George Cruikshank. This copy has the correct page listing (p. 182) for the plate "A Startling Effect" in the list of "Embellishments" in Volume I. Publisher's primary binding of pink vertically-ribbed cloth embossed in a floral design. Spines pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt. Original yellow coated endpapers. Corners lightly rubbed, spine extremities chipped, tiny puncture mark on the front cover of each volume. The gilt on the spine is slightly rubbed. Some light foxing and browning, few short marginal tears. Early ink signature of R. M. Smyth on the front pastedown of each volume. Pencil note at the foot of the final page of text: "read by Montague Smyth." A very good copy. The two volumes individually chemised and housed together in a quarter dark green morocco over green cloth slipcase. Carr B599. Cohn 237. Eckel, pp. 140-142. Gimbel B64.
"Joey Grimaldi (1778-1837), the greatest of pantomime clowns, was almost single-handedly responsible for developing the satirical potential of pantomime in its heyday, 1800-30, at a time when it was 'the only effective means of satire to hold the stage' (Mayer 1969). Dickens had fond childhood memories of seeing Grimaldi perform (to the sub-editor of Bentley's Miscellany, March 1838). He 'set great store' by the 'Introductory Chapter', containing reminiscences of his youthful love of clowns, and the concluding chapter, which described Grimaldi's death and assessed his character (to Bentley, 21 February 1838)" (Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens, p. 374).
"Just how much of his talents Dickens contributed to this book has been a subject of controversy. Forster asserted that his great friend had written only the Preface, called in the book, 'Introductory Chapter,' and not a line of the biography. Also it has been stated that Dickens dictated most of the changes and modifications to his father. Richard Bentley, the publisher of the book, as late as July 23, 1870, in a letter to Notes and Queries stated that Dickens wrote much of the work, and that he complained of the work being wearisome. It is plain that the last chapter is in Dickens' style and that other parts of the book are his. Grimaldi laid the foundation for his memoirs, but in a rough and diffuse manner. He gave the manuscript to Thomas Egerton Wilks, who, after some condensing, sold the manuscript to Bentley, who, in turn, passed it to Dickens for the purpose of embroidery. An added interest in the book lies in the etchings by George Cruikshank, many of which were very fine" (Eckel).
"In the second issue a very crude attempt was made to 'improve' Chruikshank's drawing by surrounding it with a grotesque border. Dexter says that the doubtful honor for this mutilation has been ascribed to Alfred Crowquill and George Augustus Sala" (Eckel).
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