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Book Description

Full title: Dickens, Positively the First Appearance: A Centenary Review with a Bibliography of Sketches by Boz by [J.E.S. Sawyer and] F.J. Harvey Darton

AN IMPORTANT PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED TO THE ‘ARDENT DICKENSIAN’ ARTHUR WAUGH, THE EDITOR OF THE ‘NATIONAL EDITION’ OF DICKENS’ WORKS

Octavo (215 x 143mm), pp. x, 145, [1 (blank)], [4 (publisher’s catalogue of the ‘Argonaut Travel Series’)]. L. 2/7 a cancellans, ‘Addendum’ slip tipped onto inner margin of p. [143]. Half-tone portrait frontispiece and 4 plates after George Cruikshank, all integral. (Occasional very light marks.) Original green cloth backed textured boards, printed paper title-label on spine. (Offsetting onto free endpapers, slight fading on spine and periphery of boards, spine label slightly rubbed and chipped, extremities lightly rubbed and bumped.) A very good copy. Provenance: Arthur Waugh (1866-1943, presentation inscription on front free endpaper ‘To Arthur Waugh, the Household, Gadshill, Biographical, and National publisher of Charles Dickens, from F.J. Harvey Darton J.E.S. Sawyer’ and engraved armorial bookplate on upper pastedown).
Dealer Notes
First edition. The first literary work to be published by Dickens (1812-1870) was a story titled ‘A Dinner at Poplar Walk’, which appeared in the December 1833 issue of The Monthly Magazine. This humorous skit on middle-class manners by the twenty-one-year-old journalist was the first of a number of pieces he published (without payment) in that periodical (the sixth of these was the first for which he used the pseudonym ‘Boz’). Three years later, these pieces and others would be revised and collected in Dickens’ first book, Sketches by Boz, which was published (with illustrations by George Cruikshank) in 1836 by John Macrone in two series, which bracketed the first appearance of the first part of The Pickwick Papers, under the imprint of Chapman and Hall, Dickens’ new publishers.

Dickens, Positively the First Appearance is divided into three parts: the first (‘Prologue’) sets the scene for the publication of ‘A Dinner at Poplar Walk’ with chapters on The Monthly Magazine, its editor, the critical reception of the story, etc.; the second (‘The Performance’) reprints the story as it appeared in The Monthly Magazine; and the third (‘Epilogue: After the Performance’) examines the author’s revision of the text for publication in Sketches by Boz as ‘Mr. Minns and his Cousin’, his relationship with Macrone, and the three years following the first publication of the story, which saw Dickens’ rapid rise to national fame as a writer. Dickens, Positively the First Appearance concludes with two appendices: ‘The First Editions: A Bibliography by J.E.S. Sawyer [...] and F.J. Harvey Darton’ and ‘The Plates’, a catalogue of all of Cruikshank’s plates for the first edition of Sketches by Boz and the subsequent editions under Chapman and Hall’s imprint (Dickens, Positively the First Appearance is illustrated with four facsimiles of Cruikshank’s plates).

This copy was inscribed by Darton and Sawyer to the writer, critic, and publisher Arthur Waugh, the father of the novelists Alec and Evelyn Waugh. After graduating from Oxford (where he won the Newdigate Prize) the young Arthur Waugh had began publishing in a number of genres in the 1890s, while working as a reader for the publishers John W. Lovell & Co. After employment with the publishers Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Waugh was appointed the managing director of Chapman and Hall in 1902 and in 1926 he was made chairman, holding the position until 1936. Describing himself in later years as ‘incorrigibly Victorian’ (E. Waugh, A Little Learning (London, 1973), p. 66), Waugh was intensely proud of Chapman and Hall’s association with Dickens and was ‘an ardent Dickensian and collector of beautiful books; [...] a past President of the Dickens Fellowship, [...] [and] in active charge of the preparation of the National Edition [of Dickens’ works]’ (Retrospectus and Prospectus: The Nonesuch Dickens (Bloomsbury, 1937), p. 125; indeed, his father’s devotion to Dickens informed the conclusion of Evelyn Waugh’s 1934 novel A Handful of Dust). Chapman and Hall’s importance as Dickens’ publisher during his lifetime and the publisher of definitive editions of the author’s works afterwards is acknowledged in Darton and Sawyer’s presentation inscription, while Waugh’s A Hundred Years of Publishing: Being the Story of Chapman & Hall, Ltd (London, 1930) is quoted by Darton and Sayer in their account of Chapman and Hall’s purchase of the rights to Sketches by Boz (cf. p. 117).

Carr, VanderPoel Dickens Collection, E137; Miller, The Dickens Student and Collector, p. 64.
Author DICKENS, Charles John Huffam, [John E.S. SAWYER], and Frederick Joseph Harvey DARTON
Date 1933
Publisher London: Morrison and Gibb Ltd for The Argonaut Press

Price: £75.00

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