Dickens (Charles)


In Three Volumes

Published: Richard Bentley, London, 1838

Edition: First Edition, Mixed Issues

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First Edition, mixed issues: volumes I and II. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, volume III. Oliver Twist: or, the Parish Boy’s Progress, by “Boz.” 

I. [iv], [1]2-331, [1, blank], II. [iv], [1]2-307, [1, blank], III. [iv], [1]2-315, [1, blank] pages, volume 3 with the “Fireside” plate Rose, Maylie and Oliver, at page 313. With the first edition issue points; volume 1, page 318 "arter", volume  II page 50 "he admournfully", and page 118 "XXVI", but without the half title pages and the advertisements in volume I. Etched frontispiece in each volume and 21 etched plates by George  Cruikshank. Bound in half brown morocco with brown cloth sides, titled gilt on the spines in panels, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, binding by Baynton, Bath, horizontal  crack in the leather at the top of the spine of volume III, hinges and corners wearing, contents and plates free of foxing, a very good copy. 

Eckel (John) The First Editions of the Writings of Charles Dickens and Their Values, A Bibliography, London, 1913, pages 51 – 56. ‘Six months before the completion of the story in the periodical it was issued in a 3-volume edition. Frederic G. Kitton is the authority for the statement that the 35 London booksellers contracted for only 528 copies.  

George Cruikshank, who had been the illustrator of Dickens's first published book, was selected to do the pictures for the Miscellany, and these were afterwards utilised in the book. They were of the highest grade with the exception of the last plate, which was cancelled by the author and a substitute plate drawn . 

The first edition comprises two issues, both , however, having the same title page. The first issue carries the suppressed " Fireside ” plate, and the second issue has the substituted plate, " Rose Maylie and Oliver. " Both were dated 1838 , and the title page attributed the authorship to " Boz. " The second edition contains the later plate and the shortened title " Oliver Twist, By Charles Dickens, Author of The Pickwick Papers."’ 

Cohn (Albert M.) George Cruikshank, A Catalogue Raisonné, London 1924, number 239, pages 78/9 

Oliver Twist as a Triple-Decker, Philip V. Allingham, Professor Emeritus, Lakehead University, and Dan Calinescu, (The Victoria Web, https://victorianweb.org/authors/dickens/olivertwist/3vol.html 

Why did Richard Bentley publish Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress in three volumes when Dickens’s other publishers, Chapman and Hall and Bradbury and Evans, chose a one-volume format for his serialized novels? The one other previously serialized novel that appeared in the triple decker format was Great Expectations (1861) — a work specifically published for lending libraries, which favoured the three-volume format because they could lend them separately. Our Mutual Friend appeared in two volumes, were then followed by a "cheap" (single-volume) edition. Prior to Oliver Twist, the only "novel" that Dickens had published was The Pickwick Papers, which first appeared after serialization as a single volume. Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, Hard Times, and David Copperfield all first appeared as single volumes after part-publication. 

In all likelihood, Bentley proposed the three-volume format, even though Oliver Twist is not nearly as long as Pickwick, which had appeared as a single volume at the close of its serial run, in November 1837. The success of Dickens' collected pieces in two volumes in Sketches By Boz and then a third volume ("New Series") planned — and issued — gave young Dickens the impetus to think about future works in three volumes. Even though he wrote Pickwick Papers for Chapman and Hall in twenty parts (no. 19 being a "double number") and maybe even because of the part-issue format, he had felt comfortable about the single-volume format for Pickwick as the parts involved continuous numbering of the pages. However, in mid-1836 Dickens had contracted with John Macrone to write a three-volume novel to be called Gabriel Vardon, to be finished by November of that year. As we know, that work never saw print, although it may have been subsumed in Barnaby Rudge.’ 

  • Overall Condition: A very good copy
  • Size: 8vo (190 x 115 mm)
  • Sold By: Clarke's Africana & Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Paul Mills
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
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