• 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 70

    DICKENS, Charles. The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In. London: Bradbury and Evans for Chapman and Hall, 1845 [but 1844].

    Price Realised  

    DICKENS, Charles. The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In. London: Bradbury and Evans for Chapman and Hall, 1845 [but 1844].

    8o (164 x 105 mm). Engraved frontispiece and vignette-title by F.P. Becker after Daniel Maclise, wood-engraved illustrations by Groves, W.J. Linton, C. Gray, and Dalziel Brothers after Richard Doyle, John Leech and Clarkson Stanfield. Original red fine-ribbed cloth, covers with decorative blind border surrounding central gilt vignette and lettering on upper, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, all edges gilt; quarter morocco slicpase. Provenance: Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906), lifelong friend of Dickens (bookplate).

    "WE HAVE HEARD THE CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, MASTER SHALLOW!" (Dickens, Letter to Forster quoting Shakespeare, ca 11 October 1844)

    THE BURDETT-COUTTS COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE of the additional title. In his second Christmas book Dickens was determined to "... make a great blow for the poor!" (Ibid.) Inspired by the "tuneless, grating, discordant, jerking, hideous vibration" of the bells of Genoa, he was soon "in a regular, ferocious excitement with the Chimes; get up at seven; have a cold bath before breakfast; and blaze away, wrathful and red-hot until three o'clock or so... I am fierce to finish off in a spirit bearing some affinity to those of truth and mercy, and to shame the cruel and canting" (Dickens, Letter to Forster, ca 11th October 1844). Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts was the daughter of radical politician and reformer Francis Burdett. She met Dickens in 1838 or 39 and they became intimate friends. Dickens worked with her closely on her many philanthropic projects, including Ragged Schools, Urania College and the rehabilitation of low-income housing in Bethnal Green. Baroness Coutts knew of Dickens's marital difficulties and tried unsuccessfully to reconcile the author and his wife. Eckel, pp.116-118; Johnson, p.519; Smith II: 5.


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