• 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 52

    [DICKENS, Charles]. SEYMOUR, Robert. Sketchbook containing 88 pen-and-ink drawings, each with manuscript caption beneath the image, ten hand colored, each signed "J. Gent" and dated 1834-36.

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    [DICKENS, Charles]. SEYMOUR, Robert. Sketchbook containing 88 pen-and-ink drawings, each with manuscript caption beneath the image, ten hand colored, each signed "J. Gent" and dated 1834-36.

    Sheets each 232 x 137 mm. Contemporary morocco album, gilt-lettered "Sketches" on front cover (block loose in binding, some sheets loose from block, a few chips at edges); quarter morocco folding case.

    A FINE SERIES OF ORIGINAL SKETCHES BY ROBERT SEYMOUR, THE ILLUSTRATOR OF 'THE PICKWICK PAPERS'

    By 1833 Seymour was justly famous for his illustrations depicting amateur sporstmen ineptly engaged in hunting and fishing, and other early works with his illustrations include similar Pickwickian characters: The Heiress, 1830 and The Book of Christmas, 1835-1836. It was Seymour who proposed to Edward Chapman of Chapman and Hall a project depicting the activities of an amateur sporting club. After seeing four of Seymour's illustrations Chapman agreed to publish in monthly parts (with wrappers designed by Seymour) and sought a writer to provide copy for Seymour's illustrations. What would eventually become immortalized as The Pickwick Papers, began as a commission for Dickens to write a series of comic sketches to accompany monthly sporting plates by the popular illustrator Robert Seymour. "After being turned down by William Clarke, they approached Dickens, who agreed to the proposal but broadened the subject matter from its sporting emphasis... By the second number, he had, in "The Stroller's Tale" of the dying clown, introduced subject matter far afield from Seymour's original conception, a subject that was especially troubling to Seymour who suffered from periodic bouts of depression" (Davis). Before the second part had been completed, on 20 April 1836, Seymour shot himself in the summer house to the rear of his home in Liverpool Road, Islington. After his suicide, Dickens changed the direction of the enterprise giving the narrative much more prominence, transforming the series of journalistic sketches into a novel. Seymour's sketches were published as Sketches by Seymour (see below).

    [With:] SEYMOUR, Robert. Sketches by Seymour. [London]: 1863. Part 2 only (of 5), 8o. 90 plates. Contemporary morocco gilt, front wrapper bound in. Later edition. Following his suicide, Seymour's widow published his sketches, and was bitter about Dickens's spurning of her husband.


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