DICKENS, Charles. Master Humphrey's Clock. By "Boz." London: Chapman and Hall, 11 April 1840 - 27 November 1841.
88 weekly parts, 8o (270 x 180 mm). Three frontispieces, and numerous wood-engravings in the text by George Cattermole and Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"]. (Some occasional minor soiling.) Original pictorial printed self-wrappers, uncut, some unopened (some occasional chipping and light soiling, pt. 81 with lower corner torn away with loss of some text); blue cloth slipcase. Provenance: James McCall (signature on front wrappers of parts 7-30).
"FOR TO COMMUNE WITH YOU, IN ANY FORM, IS TO ME A LABOUR OF LOVE" (Dickens)
FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL WEEKLY PARTS. With preliminaries (frontispiece, title-page and Preface) for the three volume edition present in numbers 26, 52, and 88. Each issued as a single folded sheet consisting of 16 pages, of which twelve were numbered pages of letterpress and the others forming the outer wrapper. Every four or five weeks the leaves of text were gathered and made up into a single part, each bound in familiar green wrappers, so creating the monthly issue. When both these periodical issues were complete the whole was bound in three volumes in purple-brown cloth.
Master Humphrey's Clock was planned to be a collection of stories and sketches told by Master Humphrey and his circle of friends, as Dickens outlined in his Preface: "When the author commenced this Work, he proposed to himself three objects. First. To establish a periodical, which should enable him to present, under one general head, and not as separate and distinct publications, certain fictions which he had it in contemplation to write. Secondly, to produce these Tales in weekly numbers; hoping that to shorten the intervals of communication between himself and his readers, would be to knit more closely the present relations they had held, for Forty Months. Thirdly. In the execution of this weekly task, to have as much regard as its exigencies would permit, to each story as a whole, and to the possibility of its publication at some distant day, apart from the machinery in which it had its origin. The characters of Master Humphrey and his three friends, and the little fancy of the clock, were the result of these considerations. When he sought to interest his readers in those who talked, and read, and listened, he revived Mr. Pickwick and his humble friends; not with any intention of reopening an exhausted and abandoned mine, but to connect them in the thoughts of those favourites they had been, with the tranquil enjoyments of master Humphrey."
The original scheme was not successful, and Dickens altered the format to make Master Humphrey's material a framework for his novels, The Old Curiosity Shop (numbers 6 - 45) and Barnaby Rudge (numbers 46 - 88), both published separately in 1841. The remaining Master Humphrey material was first collected for The Charles Dickens Edition of his collected works, published by Chapman and Hall, 1868-1871. Eckel, pp. 67 - 68; Hatton & Cleaver, p. 163.