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2 April 2008
[DICKENS, Charles]. The Strange Gentleman; a Comic Burletta, in Two Acts. By "Boz." First Performed at the St. James's Theatre, on Thursday, September 29, 1836. London: Chapman and Hall, 1837.
8o (175 x 115 mm). (Lightly browned, one or two spots.) 19th-century full green crushed morocco, gilt (front cover detached and with two tiny blemishes). Provenance: Kenyon Starling (bookplate).
"THE SCARCEST AND THE COSTLIEST OF ALL DICKENS PAMPHLETS" (Eckel).
FIRST EDITION of the first of Dickens's plays to be publicly performed, although not the first to be written, and a runaway success. Harley had asked Dickens to write a one-act farce with an amusing part in which Harley himself could appear, and Dickens began to turn one of his 'Sketches', 'The Great Winglebury Duel', into a play: it is a conventional farce of cross-purposes and confused identities, but its elaborate misunderstandings, though mechanically arranged, are ingenious, and it is easy to see that they would be ludicrous enough in the hands of skilled actors" (Johnson).
Copies appear to have been issued with a frontispiece by H.K. Browne ["Phiz"] or without (as here). Eckel notes "some copies there are without the frontispiece." Eckel, pp. 154-56; Johnson, p. 129; Yale/Gimbel A26.
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