DICKENS, Charles. Great Expectations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
3 volumes, 8o (197 x 121 mm). 32-page publisher's catalogue dated May 1861 at end. (One or two spots.) Original publisher's bright violet wavy-grained cloth, covers decorated with blind border of double fillet, inner single fillet at top and bottom, inner broad border of interwined flowers and leaves in relief against blind-stamped arabesque background, spines with blind borders of triple fillet at head and foot, title and author in relief against fine gilt block decorated with fine tendrils and small flowers, volume number and publisher in gilt, cream endpapers, uncut (extremities just touched, negligible rubbing to covers, spine color a bit muted, inner hinges of volumes one and three just starting, else EXCEPTIONALLY FINE AND BRIGHT); brown morocco elaborately gilt folding box. Provenance: Colvin (contemporary signature on each front paste-down); Collated Perfect Kenneth George Maggs (1900-1959), bookseller); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
"A VERY FINE, NEW, AND GROTESQUE IDEA HAS OPENED UPON ME" (Dickens, Letter to Forster 4 October 1860)
FIRST EDITION, FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF EACH VOLUME, OF ONE OF DICKENS'S GREATEST WORKS. Only 1,000 copies of the first edition were published, with most of these copies going to circulating libraries. This copy is remarkable in that of the nearly 120 points outlined in the extremely detailed analysis found in the Clarendon edition of Great Expectations (1993, Appendix D, list C and D), almost all are the earliest state, with the following exceptions: vol. III, p.192, lines 11-12 are in state 2; p. 39, line 5 is state 3; p. 193 is state 2; page 195, line 2 is state 2; and p.217, line 3 is in state 2. As with the Bodlein copy of vol. III, "these changes suggest a later state of vol. III within the 1st impression" (ibid., p.499).
First published in 36 weekly parts in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 - 3 August 1861, without illustrations. Dickens's original plan had been to issue Great Expectations in monthly numbers but since sales of All the Year Round were suffering during its serialization of Charles Lever's A Long Day's Ride: A Life's Romance (described by Davis as "tedious") Dickens "called a council of war at the office on Tuesday [presumably 2 October 1860]. It was perfectly clear that the one thing to be done was, for me to strike in. I have therefore decided to begin the story as of the length of The Tale of Two Cities on the first of December -- begin publishing, that is. I must make the most I can out of the book. You shall have the first two or three weekly parts to-morrow. The name is GREAT EXPECTATIONS. I think a good name?" (Dickens, Letter to Forster 4 October 1860). Davis, p. 153; Eckel, p. 91-93; Sadleir 688; Smith II: 14. (3)