London: Chapman and Hall, 1837. First Edition in book form. Octavo, pp. xvi, 609, 43 illustrations by Seymour and "Phiz" plus frontis and vignette title in first states, with 32 further illustrations by Thomas Onwyn (75 illustrations in total). Lacks half-title and Buss plates, the Seymour plates are a mix of first states of the first and second plates, and the Phiz illustrations are first states except plates 16, 17 and 42 which are second state. With Instructions to the Binders at p.xvi and 6-line errata on verso. Contains twenty of the thirty internal flaws listed by Smith as being present in most first editions, including the signature E on pp. 25 and 27. Contemporary binding in half green gilt ruled morocco over marbled boards with floral gilt devices on the panels of the spine, marbled endpapers. Ownership inscription on p.v at Dedication, 1cm horizonal tear at plate 5 facing p.17 and plate 15 facing p.76, pages are age-toned, the frontis and vignette title are lightly foxed, occasional foxing and soil marks throughout, leather at front joint is beginning to separate, marbled boards lightly scuffed.
(Eckels, Smith 1:1, Hatton and Cleaver). Item #800
Dickens' first novel catapulted the young Parliamentary reporter and a roving journalist into a publishing phenomenon. As bibliographer Eckels wrote in 1932, "From a literary standpoint the supremacy of this book has been so firmly established that continued debate seems to be a closed incident. It was written by Dickens when he was twenty-four and its publication placed the author on a solid foundation from which he was never removed." (Eckels, p. 17).
After the untimely death of illustrator Robert Seymour, Robert Buss provided the plates for the third instalment, but Dickens was not impressed and Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz) provided the illustrations for the rest. Thomas Onwyn is an illustrator recognised for gently satirising the disparities and interdependence bewtween the rich and poor. Onwyn was overshadowed in his day by George Cruikshank and earned noteriety by providing illustrations for pirated copies of Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby. Dickens did not appreciate Onwyn's art but both men were concerend with social injustice and inequality.