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    Sale 1981

    The William E. Self Family Collection Part I The Kenyon Starling Library Of Charles Dickens

    2 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1

    [DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870)]. Complete set of Charles Dickens's contributions to The Monthly Magazine or British Register of Politics, Literature, Art, Science, and the Belles Lettres. London: A. Robertson; Cochrane and M'Crone; James Cochrane and Co., December, 1833-1835.

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    [DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870)]. Complete set of Charles Dickens's contributions to The Monthly Magazine or British Register of Politics, Literature, Art, Science, and the Belles Lettres. London: A. Robertson; Cochrane and M'Crone; James Cochrane and Co., December, 1833-1835.

    Eight extracts in one volume, 4o (210 x 135 mm). Engraved portrait of Charles Dickens by J. Stephenson as frontispiece (supplied, browned). (Series titles and last page of text laid down, a bit browned, a few stains and spots.) 19th-century green crushed morocco, gilt extra.

    Provenance: Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate; inscription verso first series title; his sale Sotheby's London, 22 November 1971, lot 1); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).

    "I AM SO DREADFULLY NERVOUS, THAT MY HAND SHAKES TO SUCH AN EXTENT AS TO PREVENT MY WRITING A WORD LEGIBLY" (Dickens)

    FIRST EDITIONS, INCLUDING DICKENS'S FIRST PUBLISHED STORY: A Dinner at Poplar Walk (retitled for Sketches by Boz as Mr. Minns and his Cousin; and his subsequent sketches Mrs. Joseph Porter over the Way; Horatio Sparkins; The Bloomsbury Christening; The Boarding House; The Boarding House, No. II; The Steam Excursion; and Passage in the Life of Mr. Watkins Tottle. The first five sketches appeared anonymously, the last three are signed "Boz". All his contributions to The Monthly Magazine, later collected with other early appearances from The Evening Chronicle, Bell's Life in London, The Library of Fiction, The Morning Chronicle and the Carlton Chronicle and published as Sketches by Boz.

    Born from the desire to alleviate the boredom of a career as an expert shorthand reporter these "sketches" began as amusing jottings of ordinary encounters and events, which Dickens eventually "dropped stealthily one evening at twilight, with fear and trembling, into a dark letter-box, in a dark office, up a dark court in Fleet Street" (Dickens Preface to Cheap Edition of Pickwick Papers [see lot 22]); a scene famously captured in Stephenson's engraving.

    Success was as swift as it was unexpected: "I... write to beg Mrs. K's criticism of a little paper of mine (the first of a series) in The Monthly (not the New Monthly) Magazine of this month. I haven't a Copy to send but if the Number falls in your way, look for the Article. It is the same that you saw laying on my table but the name is transmogrified from 'A Sunday out of town' to 'A Dinner at Poplar Walk' ... I am so dreadfully nervous [in anticipation of its publication], that my hand shakes to such an extent as to prevent my writing a word legibly..." (Dickens, Letter to Kolle 3 December 1833). Happily by the 10th of December Dickens had received requests for more "sketches" from the editors: "I have had a polite and flattering communication from The Monthly people requesting more papers but they are 'rather backward in coming forward' with the needful [money]. I am in treaty with them however; and if we choose my next paper will be 'Private Theatricals' and my next 'London by Night'" (Dickens, Letter to Kolle 10 December 1833). Yale/Gimbel E125-E126.

    [With:]

    DICKENS, Charles. A Dinner at Poplar Walk... Being his first Effusion, "In all the Glory of Print." Reproduced in facsimile from the Monthly Magazine December, 1833. [London]: For Walter Dexter, [1933].

    (220 x 142 mm). 24 pages stapled as issued. Illustrated. (Lightly browned at the edges, one or two spots.) Original green paper wrappers (lightly faded and a bit creased at edges).

    ONE OF 50 COPIES to mark the Centennary of the first publication of A Dinner. (2)


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