London: Bradbury and Evans, 1853. Item #04653
The Mother of all Court-Cases…
First Edition, First Issue of Dickens' Tenth Novel
DICKENS, Charles. Bleak House. With illustrations by H.K. Browne. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1853.
First edition, first issue (following all of the points in Smith), in book form of Dickens' ninth novel.
Octavo (8 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches; 210 x 133 mm.). xvi, 624 pp. Engraved frontispiece, title-page, and thirty-eight plates after Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz") including the ten 'dark' plates.
Modern three-quarter tan calf over marbled boards ruled in blind, spine with four raised bands, decoratively ruled in gilt, red morocco label lettered in gilt, matching marbled endpapers.
The plates with varying degrees of foxing, mainly marginal. Still a very good copy of the first edition, first issue at a very reasonable price.
"There were two classes of charitable people: one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise;
the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all." (Charles Dickens, Bleak House).
Bleak House originally appeared in twenty numbers, bound in nineteen monthly parts, the last forming a double number, from March 1852 - September 1853. It was published in book form on September 12, 1853. at 21s.
According to Sadleir, Bleak House in the original cloth, in fine state, is the seventh rarest of Dickens' major novels.
Bleak House contains ten of the so-called dark plates, which were created by a machine process that tinted the etched plate and heightened its black-and-white contrast. The ten dark plates in Bleak House are: The Frontispiece; The Ghost's Walk; Sunset in the Long Drawing-Room at Chesney Wold; Tom All Alone's; A New Meaning in the Roman; Shadow; The Lonely Figure; The Night; The Morning; The Mausoleum at Chesney Wold. The smooth blending of light and shadow on these illustration vividly contrast with the other illustrations in the novel and are fine examples of the dark plate process.
"As he did since Dombey and Copperfield, Browne continued to prepare some horizontal illustrations for Dicken's novels. For Bleak House, nineteen of the his illustrations are reproduced horizontally. A very few of the illustrations in Bleak House are signed, and Phiz did not sign any of them in Little Dorrit or A Tale of Two Cities. Each illustration bears a title and is located in the List of Plates." (Smith).
Bleak House has many characters and several sub-plots, and the story is told partly by the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson, and partly by an omniscient narrator. At the center of Bleak House is the long-running legal case, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which came about because someone wrote several conflicting wills. This legal case is used by Dickens to satirize the English judicial system, and he makes use of his earlier experiences as a law clerk, and as a litigant seeking to enforce copyright on his earlier books. Though the legal profession criticized Dickens's satire as exaggerated, this novel helped support a judicial reform movement, which culminated in the enactment of legal reform in the 1870s.
Smith I:10. Sadleir 682. Woolf 1795.