[DICKENS, Charles, editor]. Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi. London: Richard Bentley, 1838.
2 volumes, 8o (200 x 125 mm). Half-titles, 36-page publisher's advertisements bound at end of vol. 2. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Grimaldi by W. Greatbatch and 12 etched plates by George Cruikshank (frontispiece detached, some occasional spotting). (Some minor offsetting from plates to text leaves.) Original pink embossed cloth, spines gilt, uncut (some minor soiling, spines slightly darkened, minor wear at spine ends); cloth slipcase. Provenance: Reginald Arthur Tatton (1857-1926; bookplate); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, in the first issue binding (Carter's binding A) and without the grotesque border around the last plate in the book, but with the inserted "List of Embellishments" correctly listing the sixth plate at p.182. An actor and pantomimist, Grimaldi (1778-1837) achieved fame playing the clown in numerous performances at Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden. Transforming the clown from a crude fool into a mischievous and amoral trickster on stage, Grimaldi succeeded in epitomizing the desires of the Regency period and in satirizing aspects of its society. Bentley acquired his memoirs, which were clumsily written by Thomas Egerton Wilks from autobiographical notes, and asked Dickens to revise it. Dickens agreed, but stipulated that his name only appear as editor and demanded £300 and half the profits after expenses. "Dickens did no original writing, except for an introductory and possibly a concluding chapter. His revisions, mostly drastic abridgement, he dictated to his father, who vastly enjoyed his exalted office as emanuensis" (Johnson, p.242). The book was quite successful, which greatly suprised Dickens, who thought very little of it. Carter Binding Variants, pp.106-107; Eckel, pp.140-142; Johnson, p.242; Yale/Gimbel B64.