London: Bradbury and Evans, 1853. Full calf. Octavo (20.9 x 13cm), pp. xi, 624, 40 illustrations by Phiz including the vignette title page. Handsomely bound in full tan polished calf with five raised bands to the spine, tooled and gilt blocked panels, title panel in slightly darker tan and author panel in black leather, gilt lettered, double gilt borders on the boards, marbled endpapers, gilt dentelles, silk bookmark, bookplate of Leonard Daneham, Cunliffe.
All but two first edition points, corrections having been made on pp. 184 and 620. The number 2 is present at p.230. The frontis and vigentte title are heavily toned to the edges, and the vignette title is foxed, occasional foxing elsewhere, the plates are variously toned at the edges with occasional soil marks, top corner missing from p.91 (no loss), last plate bound between pp.620 and 621, water or soil mark to lower outer corner pp. 619-623. (Smith 1:10). Item #798
The original idea of Bleak House began with an article in Household Words titled "Martyrs in the Chancery" and the new novel launched an attack of the the abuses in the English Chancery Court system (Eckels, p.79). It is a favourite Dickens novel among other writers including G.K. Chesterton and Stephen King. The narrative structure is unique, combining an omniscient third person narrator with the first person narrative of Esther Summerson, whose account provides a case study of Victorian feminine modesty. Dickens introduced two material innovations with Bleak House: he discarded the lengthy titles and he changes the colours of the wrappers (of the original instalments) from green to blue.
Leonard Daneham Cunliffe was a British banker who, together with his brothers, established the merchant bank Cunliffe Brothers in 1890.