London: Chapman and Hall, 186, Strand. 1839. First Edition. Octavo, bound in mid-20th Century half brown calf over brown cloth boards, the spine with five raised bands titled gilt in compartments, top edges gilt, others trimmed, marbled endpapers. 624 pp. Engraved portrait frontispiece, plus 38 additional full-page plates throughout the text, all by Phiz. Bound without half-title. Issue points: Nickleby is a notoriously complex book bibliographically. This copy has all but five of Smith's first issue text points (no "visiter" for "sister on p. 123, but with "latter" for "letter" on p. 160, indicating a copy bound from early parts, as well as "inscsribed" on p. 238). The frontispiece and first four states are presumed to be of the first issue, but the lower edge is trimmed. The plate at page 248 is Phiz's plate 3 (omits the word "in"); the plate at p. 356 is one of Phiz's first three plates (with "Mr. Linkwater" in caption); plate at p 457 with the words "the lodgings of" (Phiz plate 1, no priority of issue). In addition to the plates as published, this copy has four "Peter Pallette" plates bound in at pps 32, 71, 118, & 127, & the original front & rear wrappers for these bound in at the end. The first edition in book form of Dickens' third novel, bound from the original parts, with stab-holes present in the inner margins of gatherings. Nicholas Nickleby was originally published in twenty numbers, bound in nineteen monthly parts, the last part as a double number from April 1838 through October 1839. The first edition in book form was made up from these parts. Most plates with little or no foxing or browning, and highly unusual thus; a really nice, bright copy; near fine. Item #311293
¶ “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby had begun its monthly part-issue in March 1838 and was completed in twenty numbers in October 1839. This story, which for thirteen months Dickens wrote alongside Oliver Twist, originated in his determination to expose the scandal of unwanted children consigned to remote and brutal Yorkshire schools; accompanied by Browne, he conducted an on-the-spot midwinter investigation just before beginning to write Nickleby. In this rambling, episodic, often wildly funny book, written very much in the mode of the Smollett novels Dickens had devoured as a child, the Yorkshire school setting is soon left behind, and the gallant young hero and his pathetic protégé, Smike, wander forth to undergo various adventures, both farcical and melodramatic; they are persecuted by Nicholas's wicked uncle and other villains, who also threaten the virtue of Nicholas's pure young sister Kate, but all is eventually set right by the benevolent Cheeryble brothers, though they cannot save Smike. The story is rich in unforgettable comic characters like the endlessly garrulous Mrs Nickleby and the strolling player Vincent Crummles and his troupe, and in places it resembles Sketches by Boz in its vivid evocation of particular London neighbourhoods” (Dictionary of National Biography).