London: Chapman and Hall, 1870. Item #04181
First Edition of “Edwin Drood” in the Original Parts
The Kenyon Starling/William Self Copy
DICKENS, Charles. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With Twelve Illustrations by S.L. Fildes, and a Portrait. London: Chapman and Hall, [April-September] 1870.
First edition of Dickens’s final work, left unfinished at the time of his death. In the original six monthly parts, as issued.
Octavo (8 13/16 x 5 9/16 inches; 223 x 142 mm.). vii, [1, “Illustrations”], 190, [2, advertisements] pp. Frontispiece portrait of Dickens (“Engraved by J.H. Baker, from a Photograph taken in 1868, by Mason & Co.”), wood-engraved vignette title by J. Brown, and twelve wood-engraved plates, two by the firm of Dalziel Brothers, ten by Charles Roberts, all after Samuel Luke Fildes.
This set collates complete except for the 8-page Chapman & Hall's Recent Publications at the end of part V. (see note below). The rare and fragile “Cork Hats” ad is present in part No. II, “a thin sheet of actual cork split to the substance of ordinary news-paper, on both sides of which is printed the publicity matter”—this example has been exceptionally well preserved. The front wrapper to part No. VI is earliest issue, with a slip “Price Eighteenpence” pasted over the originally printed “One Shilling” rather than correctly printed. Part VI has the variant (Hatton & Cleaver 1a) Wilcox & Gibbs ad, with “A New World at Home for Busy People” on the first page.
Original pale green printed wrappers. Small neat repair to the spine edge of lower cover of part V and some wear to lower portion of the spine of part I. All spines have been remarkably well and almost invisibly restored (many years ago). Minimal foxing and edge wear. In spite of these flaws, this is a near fine copy—certainly one of the best that we have ever seen - and with a perfect example of the rare 'Cork Hats" advertisement in part II. Parts II through VI have the pencil signature of a Mr. Wallace on fore-edge of front wrappers. Chemised in a later green cloth slipcase. With the bookplates of Kenyon Starling and [William] Self on inside of chemise.
Note: Strangely enough the last few examples that we have seen or handled of Edwin Drood was stitched without the same Chapman & Hall 8-page advert.
“When Dickens died on June 9, 1870, he had completed only enough of his manuscript to make up six instalments, leaving unfinished a work which had commanded the widest attention for its opening numbers, and which promised to be one of his most effective and popular books. Although only three parts had been issued prior to his death, publication of the work continued, and on completion with Part 6 of all available material, the vast army of readers was left high and dry as to ‘The Mystery.’ The design for the front cover was by C.A. Collins (brother of Wilkie Collins), and therein are depicted eight incidents of the story, which it is frequently suggested have a bearing on the eventual solution. The Author during the writing of the story never disclosed the ultimate development of his plot” (Hatton and Cleaver).
Hatton and Cleaver, pp. 371-382.