• 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 82

    DICKENS, Charles. Bleak House. London: Bradbury and Evans, March 1852- September 1853.

    Price Realised  


    DICKENS, Charles. Bleak House. London: Bradbury and Evans, March 1852- September 1853.

    20 parts in 19, 8o (226 x 142 mm). Half-title. Engraved frontispiece, additional engraved title and 38 engraved plates by Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"] (some darkening to plates). Original blue pictorial printed wrappers, uncut (a few small chips and repairs to spines, part III with tiny marginal strip of upper wrapper trimmed away ); beige quarter leather folding case.

    FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS, with the Bleak House Advertiser in all parts, the scarce "The Village Pastor" leaflet in part 15, the "Waterlow and Sons" advertisment with 4 pages in part 1, the "Crochet Cotton" advertisment in third issue in part 3, and ALL OTHER INSERTED ADVERTISEMENTS AND SLIPS NOTED IN HATTON & CLEAVER.

    Dickens considered many titles for his new novel before settling on Bleak House, each more gloomy than the last: Tom-all-Alone's: The Ruined House; Bleak House Academy; The East Wind; Tom-all-Alone's: The Solitary House where the Grass Grew; Tom-all-Alone's: The Solitary House that was always Shut up and never Lighted; Tom-all-Alone's: The Solitary House where the Wind howled; Tom-all-Alone's: The Ruined House that Got into Chancery and never got out. "The name "Tom-all-Alone's" floated up... out of his childhood memories of the lonely house in the waste places of Chatham, wrecked by the mines the army had exploded within its walls. But in it fused the image of the desolate London slum with its falling houses and the idea of a social system rotten with the forces of its own decay and ultimate self-annihilation" (Johnson p. 746).

    For the parts issue of Bleak House Dickens abandoned the familiar "green leaves" wrappers for a distinctive blue. 30,000 copies of the first number of Bleak House were sold, the circulation eventually grew to 40,000. Eckel, pp. 79-81; Hatton & Cleaver, pp. 275-304; Yale/Gimbel A102.

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