• 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 59

    DICKENS, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839.

    Price Realised  


    DICKENS, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839.

    8o (211 x 128 mm). Half-title, engraved portrait frontispiece of the author by Daniel Maclise in first state with imprint, 39 engraved plates by Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"]. Contemporary dark green morocco, ruled in gilt, edges gilt (rebacked preserving original spine).

    Provenance: SIR DAVID WILKIE (1785-1841), Scottish genre and portrait painter, close friend of Dickens (presentation inscription from the author, autograph letter laid in); Alain de Suzannet (bookplate; his sale Sotheby's, 22 November 1971, lot 45).

    AN EXCEPTIONAL PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, INSCRIBED ON THE DEDICATION LEAF TO THE PAINTER DAVID WILKIE: "Sir David Wilkie From his faithfully Charles Dickens." Wilkie was the godfather of Wilkie Collins and a close friend of Dickens. Dickens's work was often compared to Wilkie's, as both depicted common people in their everyday lives. Dickens spoke of Wilkie, in a tribute upon his death, as one "who made the cottage hearth his grave theme, and who surrounded the lives, and cares, and daily toils, and occupations of the poor, with dignity and beauty." Eckel, pp.64-66; Smith I:5; Yale/Gimbel A41.

    [Laid in:]

    A SUPERB LETTER FROM WILKIE TO MRS. RICKETTS, OUTLINING THE PARTY HELD BY DICKENS UPON THE PUBLICATION OF 'NICKLEBY' AND DICKENS'S THOUGHTS ON WORDSWORTH. Autograph letter signed ("David Wilkie") to Mrs. Ricketts, Kensington London, 14 October 1839. 3 pages, 4to. Wilkie writes that ". . . From Lowther Castle I had to hurry on to town to be present at a scene, which to some of the gentle readers in your house would have possessed some claim it was to be present at a fiesta given by Mr Dickens to the publishers, printers and artist, with various of his friends, about 20 in all on the completion of Nicholas Nickleby. It was at the Albion, Aldergate St. Mr Dickens our host was in the chair, and Mr Macready, for whom the book was dedicated was on his right hand, and had to propose his health. Though a master of elocution, the occasion seemed to deprive him of the advantage this might be expected to give to a speaker, but one passage for the advantage of Miss Taylor and Miss Anna I will venture to repeat, in remarking on the peculiar style of Mr Dickens, he admired that faculty of supplying to the reader, not merely the bold adventure, and the startling incident, but was equally happy in all the little details and minute feelings of the every day intercourse of life, so finely as he said characterised in the lines of Wordsworth as 'Thou nameless and unnumbered acts That make the best part of a good mans life.' This led Mr. Dickens to speak to me of Mr Wordsworth who he knew I had lately seen, and to express every great admiration for his genius, of which he thought the little poem 'We are Seven' was one of the most striking examples. What he seemed to like in this was divesting death of its horror, by treating it as a separation and not an extinction, the deprecated what in families occurred, of never alluding to a near relation deceased, said he lately met a severe loss, but took every pains to recall, the person deceased to his family about him.

    "My talented friend rose much in my mind by this reflection on the work of our great poet, and I repeat it, supposing that to yourself and the readers of his writings around you it will have the same effect..."

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