This edition of Sketches by Boz, first published as a complete volume in 1839, consists of short pieces by Dickens, which were originally published in newspapers and periodicals between 1833 and 1836. The sketches, fifty-six in total, are observations of London life, its scenes and its people. As you can see in the copy displayed, Dickens’s writing was beautifully offset by George Cruikshank’s detailed illustrations.
Dickens began work on his weekly periodical, Master Humphrey's Clock in April 1840, and it ran until December 1841. Initially he employed a framing device that hinged on Master Humphrey relating stories to a small group, but two more novels, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge, ultimately evolved out of this venture. In an attempt to boost low sales, Dickens recycled some of his popular characters from the Pickwick Papers, namely Samuel Pickwick, the cheeky cockney Sam Weller and his charismatic father, Tony Weller (as seen in the illustration).
Nearly all of Dickens’s works were originally published in monthly instalments, which compelled readers to stay with one narrative for an extended period of time and share their anticipation as they awaited the next number. On display here are serial parts from Dickens’s sixth novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, which ran from January 1843 to July 1844. The distinctive green covers and lively illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne had been a Dickensian trademark since the publication of The Pickwick Papers (1838).
Dickens’s much-beloved novella, A Christmas Carol, was first published on 19th December 1843. The initial print run of 6000 copies sold out in days: the undeniably appealing tale of a crusty old miser successfully converted in time for Christmas seized hold of the public imagination and brought Dickens closer than ever to his dedicated readership. Countless adaptations (prose, television, film, stage) testify to its lasting popularity. The first of John Leech’s vivid illustrations depicts the Ghost of Christmas Present bringing Scrooge face-to-face with human suffering by showing him the two emblematic children Ignorance and Want; the second shows a repentant Scrooge kneeling before the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Dickens described David Copperfield as his ‘favourite child’. It is also considered to be the most autobiographical of his works. David Copperfield was first published in serial form from 1849-50. This is a first edition of the book version. The atmospheric illustrations by Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne) vividly capture the settings described by Dickens in the novel, particularly of the beach at Yarmouth.