2 April 2008
DICKENS, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. London: Chapman and Hall, May 1864-November 1865.
20 parts in 19, 8o (220 x 142 mm). Half-titles, "To the Reader" slip tipped to first text leaf. Wood-engraved frontispiece and 39 wood engravings after Marcus Stone by Dalziel and W.T. Green. Original green pictorial printed wrappers, parts 2, 6, 8, 11 and 19/20 unopened (first part rebacked, some repairs to spines, small tear on front wrapper of first part, a few chips and light stains); green morocco pull-off case. Provenance: William Altfield (contemporary ownership signatures on front wrappers of most parts); Kenyon Starling.
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL MONTHLY PARTS, first issue of part 1 without the printer's imprint on front wrapper, with the scarce slip addressed to the reader. "The Our Mutual Friend Advertiser" in each part and other inserted advertisements as listed in Hatton and Cleaver (including the "Economic Life Assurance Society" ad slipped in between first uncut text leaves in parts 19/20 and including the slip "Foreign Bank Notes" in parts 19/20 (later back wrapper ad on last part). Only lacking the scarce "Economic Life Assurance" ad in part 14.
Our Mutual Friend was Dickens's fourteenth, and last, completed novel. It had been nearly a decade since Dickens had completed his last monthly serial, Little Dorrit. He had in the interstice published two novels (A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations) in weekly parts in All the Year Round, but they were much shorter and required a different style than that he had developed for his monthly parts. Marcus Stone's illustrations, engraved on wood by Dalziel and W.T. Green, mark a departure from the etchings on steel of Dickens's earlier published works. Eckel, pp. 94-5; Hatton & Cleaver, pp. 343-370; Yale/Gimbel A149.
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