DICKENS, Charles. Bleak House. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1853.
8o (203 x 133 mm). Half-title. Engraved frontispiece, additional engraved title and 38 plates by Hablot K. Browne ["Phiz"] (light staining). Modern blue morocco gilt by Bayntun.
Provenance: MARK LEMON (1809-1870), originating editor of Punch, playwright and actor (presentation inscription from the author); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
"DEDICATED AS A REMEMBRANCE OF OUR FRIENDLY UNION, TO MY COMPANIONS IN THE GUILD OF LITERATURE AND ART" (Dickens, Dedication leaf)
FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, A DEDICATION COPY, inscribed by Dickens to fellow founder of the Guild of Literature and Art on the dedication leaf: "Mark Lemon From Charles Dickens. Third October 1853."
Known affectionately as "Uncle Mark" to Dickens's children Mark Lemon was with Dickens, Bulwer Lytton, Wilkie Collins, John Forster, Douglas Jerrold, John Tenniel and others a founding member of company of The Guild of Literature and Art. A talented playwright and actor, Dickens soon recruited Lemon for his amateur theatricals and Lemon acted in most of Dickens's productions, particularly memorable as Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1848. Proceeds from these and similar performances, frequently performed at Knebworth (Bulwer Lytton's home), were often collected and used for the benefit of literary and artistic veterans such as Leigh Hunt, Sheridan Knowles, and John Poole. After one such performance at Knebworth in November of 1850 Dickens and Bulwer Lytton agreed that what was needed was something more dignified than the charity of private donations. "Could they not build, Bulwer Lytton suggested, an endowment which might combine these purposes with the bestowing of an honorable distinction? He himself would write a comedy all the earnings of which he would present to the endowment; Dickens's company would act this play throughout England for its benefit" (Johnson). The play was Bulwer Lytton's Not so Bad as we Seem, and Lemon took the part of Sir Geoffrey. The first performance was at Devonshire House before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 16 May 1851 (see lot 141). Subsequent performances also included a farce written by Dickens in collaboration with Mark Lemon: Mr. Nightingale's Diary, 1851 (see lots 141 and 198). Lemon also adapted for the stage two of Dickens's Christmas Books, The Chimes and The Haunted Man. Another dedication copy of Bleak House inscribed by Dickens on the same date to John Tenniel sold Sotheby's New York 21 July 1992, lot 49. Davis, pp.165 and 206; Johnson, pp. 722-723.