DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870). Great Expectations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
3 volumes, 8° (197 x 123 mm). 32-page publisher's catalogue dated May 1861 at end. (Front endpaper splitting at inner hinge of first volume, a gathering just starting in second volume.) Original publisher's bright violet wavy-grained cloth, covers decorated with blind border of double fillet, inner single fillet at top and bottom, inner broad border of interwined flowers and leaves in relief against blind-stamped arabesque background, spines with blind borders of triple fillet at head and foot, title and author in relief against fine gilt block decorated with fine tendrils and small flowers, volume number and publisher in gilt, cream endpapers, uncut (spines slightly fading to blue, minor rubbing to joint and corners ¿exceptionally fine and bright¿); purple morocco pull-off case by Stikeman (some rubbing to edges). Provenance: Clara B. and Edward C. Daoust (booplate); Philip M. Neufeld (his sale Christie’s New York, 25 April, 1995, lot 120).
"A VERY FINE, NEW, AND GROTESQUE IDEA HAS OPENED UPON ME" (Dickens, Letter to Forster, 4 October 1860)
FIRST EDITION, second impressions of each volume (with the exception of vol. I, p.218, third impression) of one of Dickens's greatest works. Only 1,000 copies of the first edition were published, with most of these copies going to circulating libraries. First published in 36 weekly parts in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 - 3 August 1861, without illustrations. Dickens's original plan had been to issue Great Expectations in monthly numbers but since sales of All the Year Round were suffering during its serialization of Charles Lever's A Long Day's Ride: A Life's Romance (described by Davis as "tedious"), Dickens "called a council of war at the office on Tuesday [presumably 2 October 1860]. It was perfectly clear that the one thing to be done was, for me to strike in. I have therefore decided to begin the story as of the length of The Tale of Two Cities on the first of December -- begin publishing, that is. I must make the most I can out of the book. You shall have the first two or three weekly parts to-morrow. The name is GREAT EXPECTATIONS. I think a good name?" (Dickens, Letter to Forster 4 October 1860). Davis, p. 153; Eckel, p. 91-93; Sadleir 688; Smith I:14; see Clarendon edition of Great Expectations (1993, Appendix D, list C and D).