2 April 2008
DICKENS, Charles. The Village Coquettes: A Comic Opera. In two Acts... the Music by John Hullah. London: Richard Bentley, 1836.
8o (226 x 140 mm). Original unbound sheets sewn, uncut. (Lightly browned, some spotting to the first and last pages, outer leaves dust soiled, gentle central crease to first and last leaves.) Green cloth envelope.
Provenance: John Pritt Harley (1786-1858, presentation inscription from the author); Comte Alain de Suzannet (inscription on envelope; his sale Sotheby's London, 22 November 1971, lot 16); Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
DEDICATION COPY, PRESENTED TO "J.P. HARLEY ESQRE FROM THE AUTHOR", inscribed as such at the head of the title-page.
Because of scheduling issues it was in fact Dickens's The Strange Gentleman that opened the second season at Braham's relatively new St. James's Theatre. It had an extremely successful run of almost sixty performances, and Harley was "a riot as the 'Strange Gentleman' fleeing from a duel and terrified to believe himself surrounded by an innful of lunatics" (Johnson). On its closing night (6th December 1836) shared billing with the premiere of The Village Coquettes.
A second dedication copy is known: sold at the Jerome Kern sale, New York, Anderson Galleries, 8 January 1929, lot 376, bound in calf and inscribed on the title-page: "J.P. Harley Esquire From his [sic] Faithfully Charles Dickens." That copy is now in the Gimbel collection at Yale. Eckel, pp. 157-158; Johnson, 151-154; Yale/Gimbel A25.
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