London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
. A Tale of Two Cities. With Illustrations by H. K. Browne London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
DICKENS, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. With Illustrations by H. K. Browne London: Chapman and Hall, [June-December] 1859.
First edition, first issue, in the original eight numbers, bound in seven monthly parts. Octavo (8 5/8 x 5 1/2 inches; 220 x 140 mm). [i-vii]viii[ix-x], 2-254. (No half-title called for.) Sixteen inserted plates including the frontispiece and the vignette title.
Set collates complete, with the exception of Part V which is lacking all ads, and part VI only has one of the two leaves of the back advertisement. With the often-seen substitution of the Morison "Monument" ad for the Morison "View" ad in Part III, as in all other copies we've been able to trace. Also present is the scarce advertisement in the final part for Thackeray’s The Cornhill Magazine, rarely present. Text is first issue with p. 213 showing "113", "affectionately" misspelled on page 134 and the List of Plates bearing signature "b."
Original blue printed wrappers. All spines have been neatly renewed. Some light dust soiling to parts wrappers. Text is generally very clean. Plates with some occasional toning. The top of the front wrappers of parts II, III, V and VI are trimmed close, just touching the boarder and the date on part III. The front advertiser is occasionally trimmed close along the top margin. Parts II, V and VI with previous owner's old ink signature on front wrapper. Part II with some fraying along edges of front wrappers and along the blank fore-edge margin of the two plates. Bottom edge of of wrapper of Part III lightly frayed. Part V with some darker soiling front front wrapper. Still overall, a very good set. Housed in a chemise and a full green morocco clamshell.
A Tale of Two Cities marks the final collaboration of Phiz and Dickens, as well as Dickens' return to Chapman and Hall. It is one of the rarer novels in parts. The serialization in All the Year Round ran weekly from 30 April to 26 November, with the book being published on 21 November.
Dickens “had always admired Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution, and asked him to recommend suitable books from which he could research the period; in reply Carlyle sent him a ‘cartload’ of volumes...Apparently Dickens read, or at least looked through, them all; it was his aim during the period of composition only to read books of the period itself, and so great was his enthusiasm for the story that it had indeed ‘taken possession’ of him...Dickens’s knowledge of the French Revolution was strengthened by Carlyle’s wonderful history, which had appeared twenty-two years before...According to Carlyle’s biographer, Froude, Dickens carried with him everywhere a copy of A History of the French Revolution at the time of its publication in 1837...Certainly some episodes from A Tale of Two Cities are established upon Carlyle’s own narrative...Carlyle’s history may also have prompted Dickens’s use of hidden documents which play so large a part in the working out of his plot...in A Tale of Two Cities Dickens took from Carlyle what he needed and then refashioned it in the light of his own highly idiosyncratic or immediate preoccupations with imprisonment, with rebirth—and, more particularly, with self-sacrifice and the renunciation of love...The force of the novel springs from its exploration of darkness and death but its beauty derives from Dickens’s real sense of transcendence, from his ability to the sweep of destiny” (Peter Ackroyd, Dickens, pp. 858-868).
A Tale of Two Cities was first serialized in Dickens’s periodical All the Year Round, from April 30-November 26, 1859. Its appearance in monthly parts (June-December 1859) and book form mark Dickens’s return to his old publishers Chapman and Hall, after a long stay with Bradbury and Evans. The extremely large audience for the novel in All the Year Round, however, left less than the usual demand for the parts issue and, at first, for the book, both of which are now quite rare. This title also marks the author’s final collaboration with “Phiz,” Dickens’s most evocative and most sympathetic illustrator.
Hatton and Cleaver, pp. 333-342.