DICKENS, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. London: Chapman & Hall, 1859.
8o (223 x 130 mm). Etched frontispiece, vignette-title (loose) and 14 plates by Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"] (plate opposite page 5 with small marginal hole). Near contemporary green calf gilt, all edges gilt (upper joint starting, scuffed at extremities); cloth slipcase. Provenance: Edmund Yates (1831-1894), journalist and novelist (presentation inscription from Charles Dickens, his sale Sotheby's London, 21 January 1895, lot 124).
"IT IS A FAR, FAR BETTER THING THAT I DO, THAN I HAVE EVER DONE" (Sydney Carton page 254)
FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, FIRST ISSUE, PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED by Charles Dickens on the title-page to Edmund Yates: "Charles Dickens, to Edmund Yates December, 1859." A poignant association copy, inscribed to the son of famous acting duo Frederick Yates, manager of the Adelphi from 1825-1842 who produced and played leading roles in a number of dramatic interpretations of Dickens' novels, and Elizabeth Brunton.
Edmund Yates was one of the original "Dickens's young men," with George Augustus Sala, James Payn, and Percy Fitzgerald, whose career in journalism flourished under Dickens's patronage, but whose actions led directly and ultimately to the enduring estrangement of Dickens and his literary contemporary William Makepeace Thackeray. Objecting to a gossipy article written by Yates in the weekly Town Talk in June of 1858 in which he had written of Thackeray: "his bearing is cold and uninviting, his style of conversation either openly cynical, or affectedly good-natured and benevolent; his bonhomie is forced, his wit biting, his pride easily touched," Thackeray demanded Yates be expelled from the Garrick Club. Dickens, a committee member, took Yates's part in the ensuing fracas, supervising his correspondence with Thackeray and the Garrick, representing him to both, and even offering to resign from the committee himself. He blamed Thackeray for abusing his public reputation and stooping to humiliate a younger and more vulnerable man. Dickens soon became the object of Thackeray's ire: "You may not think, young'un, that I am quarrelling with Mr. Yates. I am hitting the man behind him" (Thackeray reported in Johnson page 935). "The affair ended any semblance of cordiality between the two novelists, not until a few weeks before Thackeray's death in 1863 did he and Dickens ever speak to each other again" (Johnson pp. 935-936). With page 213 numbered "113." Bound without publisher's catalogue at the end. Eckel, p.90; Smith I:13; Yale/Gimbel A143.