London: Chapman and Hall, 1839. Item #02749
First Edition in the Original Cloth
A Very Early Issue Bound From The Original Parts
DICKENS, Charles. The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby. With Illustrations by Phiz. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839.
First edition, a very early issue bound from the original parts. With thirty-five of Smith's forty-one first issue internal flaws (including all of the major points), first state frontispiece and all further plates mostly first state, including the first four (typically in second state), with imprint of Chapman and Hall.
Octavo (8 7/8 x 5 1/4 in; 225 x 133 mm). xvi, 624 pp. Forty black and white plates, including frontispiece.
Publishers primary binding in dark olive-green fine-diaper grain cloth, covers stamped in blind, spine lettered in gilt. With the bookplate of the Earl of Aylesford. An unusually bright copy with just the lightest of wear and without any fading to cloth whatsoever. Some light foxing to plates, but far less than usually found in this title. Two neat three-quarter inch closed splits to upper joint at head and tail and one short closed split to lower joint at head.
The nicest copy we have ever seen, unsophisticated and near fine: better than the famed William E. Self copy which is bumped, rubbed, and shows distress to the spine (Christie's-NY, April 2, 2008, lot 60). Housed in a full plum pigskin drop-front clamshell box.
With an ALs (with original autograph envelope) by Dickens to one Thomas Ellis Bramale, Esq. dated August 5, 1839:
"Sir, I have very great pleasure in complying with your request and beg to thank you cordially for the obliging expressions with which it is accompanied. I am Sir, Your very obedient servant, Charles Dickens."
Nicholas Nickleby was originally published in twenty numbers, bound in nineteen monthly parts, the last part as a double number from April 1838 through October 1839. The first edition in book form was made up from these parts. "It was the novelist's intention to expose in this story the terrible abuses practiced in the cheap boarding-schools of Yorkshire, and, in order that he realize their true character, he determined to investigate for himself the real facts as to the condition of those notorious seminaries, Accordingly, at the end of January 1838, he and 'Phiz' started on this memorable journey, in bitterly cold weather, and, visiting several schools in the locality, they came into direct contact with the proprietors. One of these was William Shaw, the identical schoolmaster who, some years previously, had been heavily fined for what was represented at the trial as gross maltreatment of his pupils" (Kitton, Dickens and His Illustrators, p. 75). It was Shaw upon whom Dickens based the infamous Squeers. Having made an enemy of his uncle Ralph, Nickolas was sent as an usher to Dotheboys Hall, where Wackford Squeers starved and maltreated forty students under the pretense of education. "The character of Mrs. Nickleby was largely founded upon that of Dickens's mother… [The title character] was founded on Dickens's brother-in-law, Hanry Burnett, a music teacher at Manchester" (Hayward, The Dickens Encyclopedia, p. 115)..
"H.K. Browne prepared 39 illustrations for this novel, as well as the cover for the monthly parts, while the portrait frontispiece was engraved by Finden from a painting by Maclise. Because of the the large monthly circulation of the parts, Browne etched as many as four plates, in some cases, of each illustration, and all of them were printed in the initial issue of the parts. Many of the plates from 'Miss Nickleby introduced to her uncle's friends' (page 175) onward contain Arabic or Roman numerals which indicate the order in which they were etched. Most of the numerals are located in the lower right corner, and occasionally in the left. Hatton and Cleaver state that the numeral for Plate 31 ('Mysterious appearance of the gentleman in the small-clothes,' p. 487) appears on the front of the mantleshelf…The first state of the frontispiece and the first four illustrations contain the imprint of Chapman and Hall. The first state of the frontispiece always appears in the monthly parts; the first four illustrations were issued with and without the imprint in the parts, but the plates without imprints did not appear in the earlier issues of the monthly parts, and may, therefore, be termed 'second states''' (Smith I, 5).
Smith, Part I, 5. Eckel p.64. Hatton and Cleaver, pp. 131-160.