• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1981

    The William E. Self Family Collection Part I The Kenyon Starling Library Of Charles Dickens

    2 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 109

    DICKENS, Charles. The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home. London: Bradbury and Evans for the Author, 1846 [but 1845].

    Price Realised  


    DICKENS, Charles. The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home. London: Bradbury and Evans for the Author, 1846 [but 1845].

    8o (161 x 103 mm). 2-page publisher's advertisement for New Edition of Oliver Twist at end. Engraved frontispiece and additional title by John Thompson and G. Dalziel respectively after Daniel Maclise, wood-engraved illustrations by G. and E. Dalziel, Thomas Williams, John Thompson, J. Swain and Groves after Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield, John Leech, and Edwin Landseer. 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 (extremities just touched, fore-edge of each board just bumped at center); red morocco gilt slipcase. Provenance: Kenyon Starling.

    Provenance: Le Comte Alfred D'Orsay (1801-1852), artist and dandy (presentation inscription from the author; bookplate); Comte Alain de Suzannet (bookplate; his sale Sotheby's London, 22 November 1971, lot 85); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).

    FIRST EDITION, A SUPERB PRESENTATION COPY inscribed by Dickens to Count D'Orsay on the title-page: "Count D'Orsay From his Friend Charles Dickens Christmas 1845" just two months after the birth of Dickens' child, and D'Orsay's godson, Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens.

    Alfred Guillaume Gabriel, Count D'Orsay (1801-1852) the handsome Frenchman, accomplished portrait artist (he made portraits of Queen Victoria and Lord Wellington), and inveterate gambler, whom Thomas Carlyle called the "Phoebus Apollo of dandyism" was "...one of the sights of London as he drove from his little house in Curzon Street to Hyde Park. To his smart, hooded cabriolet was harnessed a seventeen-hand horse, and behind, clinging to the straps, bounced a tiny tiger. The reins were handled in white kid gloves his wristbands were turned back over his coat cuffs ..." (Pope-Hennessey). With his mistress Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington, D'Orsay was leader of the artistic and fashionable world of London. They gathered round them in their drawing room at Gore House, Kensington, the social and literary celebrities of their day. Dickens had long looked to emulate such dilettantes as Disraeli, Bulwer Lytton (who were frequent guests), and D'Orsay himself, whose glittering dandyism would inspire some of his own later extravagances. In May of 1836 Dickens found his entrée into their society. Lady Blessington had asked Serjeant Talfourd to bring a young writer to one of her soirées to help entertain the aging Walter Savage Landor: "I wish to procure for him as much enjoyment as I can" she wrote to him. Dickens was to become one of D'Orsay's most intimate friends, and with his and Blessington's influence Dickens was soon in demand; the "kind of young man that every artist wanted to paint and every hostess to see in her salon." (Pope-Hennessey).

    In 1845 Lord Alfred Tennyson stood with D'Orsay as joint godfather and namesake of Dickens' sixth child Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens: "the extraordinary name aroused a considerable amount of not altogether friendly comment. Edward Fitzgerald took it as evidence that Dickens was a snob: 'For what is Snobbishness and Cockneyism, but such pretensions and parade?'" (Johnson). Robert Browning teased that whereas Tennyson was the godfather, D'Orsay was the devilfather. By 1849 D'Orsay could no longer avoid his creditors and fled to France, where he died in 1852.

    Second issue of advertisement leaf. Eckel, pp.119-120; Johnson, p. 573; Pope-Hennessy, Charles Dickens pp. 94, 98-99; Smith II: 6. A FINE AND UNUSUALLY BRIGHT COPY

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766