DICKENS, Charles. Bleak House. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1853.
8o. Half-title. Engraved frontispiece, additional engraved title and 38 plates by Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"] (light staining). Contemporary red half morocco, spine gilt, gilt edges (some rubbing to sides and edges); quarter morocco slipcase and cloth chemise.
Provenance: CHARLES KNIGHT (1791-1873) publisher, journalist and regular contributor to Household Words (presentation inscription from the author); Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate, his sale, Sotheby's London, 22 November 1971, lot 108).
"DEDICATED AS A REMEMBRANCE OF OUR FRIENDLY UNION, TO MY COMPANIONS IN THE GUILD OF LITERATURE AND ART" (Dickens, Dedication leaf)
FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, A DEDICATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY DICKENS TO FELLOW FOUNDER OF THE GUILD OF LITERATURE AND ART on the dedication leaf: "Charles Knight From Charles Dickens. Third October 1853."
Mr. Charles Knight with whom for many years Charles Dickens had dined on his birthday was with Dickens, Bulwer Lytton, Wilkie Collins, John Forster, Douglas Jerrold, Mark Lemon, John Tenniel and others a founding member of company of The Guild of Literature and Art. A regular contributor to his Household Words and one of the organizers of Dicken's amateur theatricals. Proceeds from these performances, frequently performed at Knebworth (Bulwer Lytton's home), were often collected and used for the benefit of literary and artistic veterans such as Leigh Hunt, Sheridan Knowles, and John Poole. After one such performance at Knebworth in November of 1850 Dickens and Bulwer Lytton agreed that what was needed was something more dignified than the charity of private donations. "Could they not build, Bulwer Lytton suggested, an endowment which might combine these purposes with the bestowing of an honorable distinction? He himself would write a comedy all the earnings of which he would present to the endowment; Dickens's company would act this play throughout England for its benefit" (Johnson). The play was Bulwer Lytton's Not so Bad as we Seem, and Charles Knight took the part of the bookseller Jacob Tonson. The first performance was at Devonshire House before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 16 May 1851 (see Self Family Collection part I, lots 141). Other dedication copies of Bleak House inscribed by Dickens on the same date sold at auction: Mark Lemon (Christie's New York, The William E. Self Family Collection Part I The Kenyon Starling Library of Charles Dickens, 2 April 2008, lot 146) and John Tenniel (sold Sotheby's New York 21 July 1992, lot 49). Davis, pp.165 and 206; Johnson, pp. 722-723.