London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster-Row, 1821. Item #02507
"Indeed, the Taste for it Amounted to a Craze"
[CRUIKSHANK, George and Robert, illustrators]. EGAN, Pierce. Life In London or, the Day and Night scenes of Jerry Hawthorne Esq. and His Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis...Embellished with Thirty-six Scenes from Real Life, Designed and Etched by I.R. & G. Cruikshank; And enriched also with numerous Designs on Wood by the same Artists. London: Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster-Row, 1821.
First edition, first issue (with no footnote on p. 9). Quarto (9 x 5 3/4 in; 228 x 146 mm). xvi, 376, [8, as adv.], [16, as catalogue] pp. Thirty-six hand-colored aquatint plates including frontispiece with original tissue guards, three folding sheets of music, miscellaneous black and white text woodcuts.
Full early twentieth century burgundy morocco by Rivière (stamp-signed). Raised bands. Gilt decorated compartments, Broad, gilt-decorated dentelles. Crimson moiré silk endpapers. All edges gilt. Front joint expertly and almost invisibly repaired. A splendid copy.
"By finding the right men [the Cruikshanks] for his work [Egan] made Life In London one the great successes of the day, comparable to that other triumphant alliance of humour and art in the pages of Dr Syntax" (Prideaux).
"A journalist, and a well-known character in his day, [Pierce Egan] wrote nothing so popular as this Life in London. Indeed, the taste for it amounted to a craze. For his illustrations, Egan went to two brothers, Isaac Robert and George Cruikshank…the success of the work was so great that the artists could not colour the engravings fast enough for the demand. It suited the taste of the time, when a ‘fast’ life had become a sophisticated and conscious aim. Life in London is a guide to a fast life.…Part of the success enjoyed by [Pierce Egan’s Life in London] was due, no doubt, to its readers’ belief that they could name the originals of the fictitious characters. Imitations came swift and frequent…" (The Cambridge History of English and American Literature ).
Cohn 262. Abbey, Life 281. Prideaux p. 307, 310, 335. Tooley 196.