DICKENS, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London: Chapman and Hall, April 1838 - October 1839.
20 parts in 19, 8o (218 x 140 mm). Half-title. Engraved portrait frontispiece of the author by Maclise and 39 engraved plates by Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"]. Original blue-green pictorial printed wrappers, uncut (some very minor chipping to foot of spine); red quarter morocco slipcase and cloth chemise. Provenance: G. Jones (name on wrapper of parts 1,5,11,12,13,14,16, and 17); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
"FICTITIOUS NARRATIVES PLACE THE ENORMITIES OF THE SYSTEM IN A MUCH STRONGER POINT OF VIEW" (Dickens, Letter to George Beadnell July 1837).
FIRST EDITION, EARLY ISSUE IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS, WITH ALL NICKLEBY ADVERTISERS AND ALL ADVERTISEMENTS called for by Hatton & Cleaver, first issue of parts 4 and 5, the first part has the publisher's imprint on the plates, part 14 has the notice of the postponement of the plates, plate 29 is the first issue. A SUPERB COPY. Part 14 includes an additional advertisement not called for by Hatton & Cleaver: a small yellow slip issued by Charles Tilt, as seen in part XI.
"The theme of Nicholas Nickleby had been vaguely shaping itself in [Dickens's] mind around the abuses in the Yorkshire schools that had made such a deep impression on him in his Chatham days... Purporting to give an education and board [to] their pupils for the cheapest of fees, the Yorkshire schools were notorious for negligence, cruelty, and pedagogical incompetence... Dickens aimed to inform the ignorant and expose the vicious" (Johnson).
On the 18th of November 1837 Dickens made a contract with Chapman & Hall to supply by March of the following year the first manuscript of his new serial story. It was to be published in the manner and form of Pickwick and he was to receive £150 per number. This was ten times as much as he received for Pickwick. On completion of Nicholas Nickleby Chapman & Hall gave Dickens a bonus of £1500. Forty-eight thousand were sold of the first number, which appeared in April, 1838. Eckel, 64-66; Hatton & Cleaver, pp. 131-160; Johnson, p. 217; Yale/Gimbel A40.