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Book Description
50 numbers bound in 2 volumes, octavo (243 x 162mm), pp. XIX: iv (volume-title, imprint, contents), 620 (nos 451-476); XX: [4 (volume-title, imprint, contents)], 596 (nos 477-501). Printed in double columns. (Occasional light spotting or marking, a few candlewax marks.) Original green cloth, boards blocked in blind with central title roundel enclosed by strapwork borders, spines lettered in gilt and decorated in blind, chocolate-brown coated endpapers, uncut, some quires unopened. (Spines slightly faded, extremities lightly rubbed, corners bumped, upper hinge of XX partially split, some quires clumsily opened causing small marginal losses.) A very good set in the original cloth. Provenance: J.D. Whitehead (engraved armorial bookplate on upper pastedowns of XIX and XX) – ‘JAW’ (engraved bookplate [?of J.A. Whitehead] in XX over J.D. Whitehead bookplate).

First edition. The first appearance of one of the two novels by which Collins (1824-1889) is best remembered, published in All the Year Round, the journal edited and published by his close friend and literary associate, Charles Dickens (Collins had also served as the journal’s temporary editor in 1867, while Dickens was in America). ‘The Moonstone has remained second only to The Woman in White in popularity among Collins’s novels. Although not the first detective story, it is a classic of the genre, with many features repeatedly borrowed by later writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers. Collins’s accomplishment was remarkable, for the novel was written while he was under great stress. His mother, ill from the beginning of 1868, died in March. Collins, suffering the worst attack of illness he had ever had to endure, called her death the bitterest affliction of his life. He was too ill to attend her funeral, and for the first time dictated a short section of his novel to [his adopted daughter] Harriet Graves, later to become his regular amanuensis. His suffering, and the effects of the laudanum which relieved it, are reflected in the experiences of the character Ezra Jennings in The Moonstone’ (ODNB).

The first of the thirty-two instalments of The Moonstone was published on 4 January 1868 as the first piece in issue number 454 of All the Year Round, and the successive instalments led the following numbers up to and including its concluding instalment number 485 (8 August 1868). The individual numbers of All the Year Round were issued weekly. Once sufficient numbers for a volume had been published, the publisher would bind up copies of the individual numbers (with newly-printed preliminary leaves providing the volume title-pages and contents), in cloth-bound volumes priced at 5s. 6d. – the form in which these two volumes were issued. The cloth-bound volumes of All the Year Round were frequently rebound by early owners, and thus they rarely survive in their original cloth bindings.

As the serial publication of The Moonstone in All the Year Round drew to a close, the text was prepared for publication in book form (which included a preface and a dedication to the memory of the author’s mother); it is believed that the first edition in book form was issued between the 1st and 14th of July 1868 (cf. M.L. Parrish, Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade, p. 73). The Moonstone enjoyed a great success in Collins’ lifetime, and continuing long after his death: in the twentieth century, T.S. Eliot wrote that ‘[t]he one of Collins’s books which is the most perfect piece of construction, and the best balanced between plot and character, is The Moonstone […]. The Moonstone is the first and the greatest of English detective novels’ (Selected Essays 1917-1932 (New York, 1932), p. 377).

Apart from The Moonstone, these two volumes of All the Year Round are also notable for the first British publication of two stories by Dickens: ‘Holiday Romance’ in four parts (issue numbers 457, 459, 464, and 467, first published slightly earlier in the same year in The Atlantic Monthly) and ‘George Silverman’s Explanation’ in nine chapters over three instalments (numbers 458, 460, and 462, also first published slightly earlier in the same year in Our Young Folks). They also include the first publication of the occasional paper ‘The Ruffian. By the Uncommercial Traveller’ (number 494), which was first published in book form in Chapman and Hall’s thirty-volume Works of Charles Dickens. Illustrated Library Edition (1873-1876).

Cf. Barzun and Taylor, A Catalogue of Crime, 576; Hubin, Crime Fiction, p. 88; M.L. Parrish, Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade, pp. 72-73; Sadleir 598; Wolff 1368; for the contributions by Dickens, cf.: Eckel pp. 220 and Kitton, The Minor Writings of Charles Dickens, pp. 138 and 141.
Dealer Notes
All the Year Round. A Weekly Journal. Conducted by Charles Dickens. With which is Incorporated Household Words, vol. XIX, pp. 73-80, 97-103, 121-127, 145-152, 169-174, 193-199, 217-223, 241-246, 265-270, 289-295, 313-319, 337-343, 361-367, 385-389, 409-413, 433-439, 457-462, 481-486, 505-511, 529-535, 553-559, 577-583, 601-606 and vol. XX, pp. 1-8, 25-30, 49-54, 73-79, 97-103, 121-127, 145-153, 169-176, 193-201. London: C. Whiting for All the Year Round and Chapman and Hall, 1868.
Author COLLINS, William Wilkie
Date 1868
Publisher London: C. Whiting for All the Year Round and Chapman and Hall

Price: £950.00

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