• The William E. Self Library, I auction at Christies

    Sale 2153

    The William E. Self Library, Important English and American Literature

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 66

    DICKENS, Charles. A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843.

    Price Realised  


    DICKENS, Charles. A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843.

    8o (164 x 102 mm). 2-page publisher's advertisement at end. Hand-colored etched frontispiece and three plates by John Leech, four wood-engravings in the text by W.J. Linton after Leech. Half-title printed in blue, title-page printed in red and blue, verso printed in blue. Original brown fine-ribbed cloth, covers with decorative blind border surrounding central gilt cartouche and lettering on upper, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, all edges gilt, yellow endpapers (spine lightly worn at ends, slightly leaned, text split at center); quarter morocco slipcase.

    Provenance: Eliza Buckley Touchet (1792-1869), daughter of a manchester merchant and wife of James Touchet, William Harrison Ainsworth's second cousin (presentation inscription from the author); Alain de Suzannet (bookplate, his sale Sotheby's 22 November 1971, lot 77).


    FIRST EDITION, FIRST IMPRESSION, with "Stave I" as the first chapter heading, balance of text uncorrected, red and blue title-page dated 1843, yellow endpapers, with the first state of the binding (the closest interval between blind decorative border on the left and the left extremity of the gilt cartouche measuring 15 mm and the "D" of Dickens unbroken).

    PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY DICKENS on the half-title "Mrs. Touchet From Charles Dickens Seventeenth December 1843." Mrs. Eliza Touchet was Harrison Ainsworth's cousin who acted as his hostess as he had separated from his wife, known for her sharp tongue and brilliant talk. Edgar Johnson writes of Dickens's burgeoning relationship with Ainsworth in 1835, at the time of his close relation with Mrs. Touchet: "Dickens's acquaintance with Harrison Ainsworth, which had begun in the previous year, had warmed into friendship. Ainsworth, who was separated from his wife, had taken a pleasant dwelling named Kensal Lodge, on the Harrow Road near the village of Willesden. Here the widow of a cousin, Mrs. Eliza Touchet, a clever, sarcastic, fascinating talker, who was twelve years Ainsworth's senior, acted as his hostess, and Ainsworth did a good deal of entertaining. At his dinner table would be found Father Prout keeping the company in a roar with classical witticisms, the brilliant young artist Daniel Maclise, the famous George Cruikshank taking more wine than anyone else and presently roaring a street ballad or dancing the hornpipe, Disraeli in his gold-flowered waistcoat and Edward Bulwer. . ." It was at one of these parties that John Macrone first expressed interest in publishing Dickens's Sketches by Boz, making these literary gatherings with Ainsworth and Mrs. Touchet instrumental in Dickens's early publication history.


    In their census of known presentation copies of A Christmas Carol, Calhoun & Heaney note that the eight earliest known presentation copies were inscribed on the 17th of December. Besides this copy to Mrs. Touchet, copies were inscribed on this day to Baroness Burdett-Coutts, Albany Fonblanque, Walter Savage Landor, Samuel Rogers, Rev. Edward Tagart, Thomas Noon Talfourd and William Makepeace Thackeray. The copies for Thomas Carlyle and John Forster were inscribed on the following day. Dated inscriptions appear for the 19th through the 22nd, and the remaining copies are undated. The next earliest dated copies are inscribed "New Years Day 1844." Calhoun and Howell J. Heaney, "Dickens' Christmas Carol After a Hundred Years: A Study in Bibliographical Evidence," in: Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 39 (Fourth Quarter, 1945); Eckel, p. 110; Kitton, pp. 33-37; Smith II:4.

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