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Annotated Exhibition Checklist

By Ronald Patkus, Laura Finkel, and Samantha Klein

N.B. Some bibliographic items cite J.B. Podeschi, Dickens and Dickensiana: a Catalogue of the Richard Gimbel Collection in the Yale University Library. New Haven: Yale University Library, 1980.

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  1. Early Periodicals
    • Weld Taylor lithograph of the Samuel Laurence portrait of a young Dickens, 1838.
      Charles Dickens’ first published story, “A Dinner at Poplar Walk,” appeared in 1833 in the Monthly Magazine. Many of his early stories appeared anonymously, under the pseudonym “Boz.” This early portrait shows Dickens a few years later, in his mid-twenties when he had begun to taste the first fruits of success as a writer. He had published a number of stories and longer literary pieces in periodicals, such as Monthly Magazine and Bentley’s Miscellany.
    • Dickens, C., ed. Bentley’s Miscellany, v.1. London: Richard Bentley, 1837.
      Richard Bentley was an important publisher in nineteenth century London. He published books by Dickens and many other writers. Bentley’s Miscellany was a literary magazine which ran from 1836 to 1868. Dickens was an early editor before he had a falling-out with Bentley. Oliver Twist, Dickens’ second novel, appeared serially in this periodical between 1837 and 1839. George Cruikshank’s illustrations accompanied the text. Bentley later published Oliver Twist in book form.
  2. Original Parts
    • Dickens, C. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. London: Chapman and Hall, 1836-37. Podeschi A15.
      Dickens’ first novel, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, first appeared serially in separate monthly parts—not as part of a periodical. This new form of publication was a departure from tradition, and helped Dickens, and other writers like him, to reach new audiences. Each individual part cost only one shilling, which made literature more affordable for readers. Nearly all of Dickens’ works appeared first in monthly parts, and only later in book form.
  3. Advertisements
    • Advertisement for the first bound edition of Oliver Twist, 1838.
      This advertisement for the bound edition of Oliver Twist is a remarkable piece of advertising ephemera; we can imagine it resting in the window of a London bookseller, beckoning potential readers. As such, it provides some insight into how Dickens’ books were marketed to nineteenth century audiences. Note the reference to Dickens’ pseudonym “Boz” - the literary name by which he was generally known in his early years - as well as his full name. The inclusion of multiple typefaces here is a hallmark of nineteenth century job printing.
    • Advertisement for the first printing of Little Dorrit, 1857.
      This later advertisement, for Little Dorrit, seems to have been produced by the London publishers Bradbury and Evans. Here monthly parts of the novel - not a bound edition - are being marketed. The affordable price of one shilling is given a prominent place in the text of the ad. Twenty years after Oliver Twist, Dickens’ pseudonym is not mentioned here. But like the other advertisement in this case, this one also mentions the novel’s illustrator (H.K. Browne).
  4. First Editions
    • Dickens, C. Oliver Twist, or, The Parish Boy’s Progress. London: Richard Bentley, 1838. Podeschi A27.
      Although Dickens reached new audiences through periodicals and the publication of monthly parts of his novels, his works were also still published in book form. Oliver Twist was the first of Dickens’ novels to appear in three volumes, which became a standard format during much of the nineteenth century. Known as “triple-deckers,” or “three-deckers,” such books also had economic implications: they could be circulated, one volume at a time, by subscription libraries. Each volume usually had around 300 pages.
  5. Plagiarisms
    • Dickens, C. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London: Chapman and Hall, [1838]-39. Podeschi A40.
      Nicholas Nickleby was Dickens’ third novel, and like other works it was first circulated in monthly parts, shown here. Fifty thousand copies of these parts were sold within a short space of time. One volume editions appeared soon thereafter (1839), in both England and America. The illustrations were done by Hablot K. Browne, also known as “Phiz,” and the work greatly increased Dickens’ fame. Other writers and publishers, however, soon tried to capitalize on the author’s rising popularity in the literary marketplace.
    • Prest, Thomas P.? Nickelas Nickelbery: Containing the Adventures, Mis-adventures, Chances, Mis-chances, Fortunes, Mis-fortunes, Mysteries,Mis-eries, and Mis-cellaneous Manoeuvres of the Family of Nickelbery. London: Lloyd, 1839. Podeschi H54.
      This edition of Nickelas Nickelbery is a parody and plagiarism of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby. Many plagiarists aimed to publish their works simultaneously with the publication of Dickens’ original works. In this example we see the publishers mimicking not only the title, but also the nickname of the author, listed here as “Bos,” (instead of “Boz” ). Dickens was aware of the production of such piracies, but the laws of the time gave him no recourse, and he could do little to stop them.
  6. Foreign Editions
    • Dickens, C. (tr. L. Moltke) En Fortælling Om To Byer. Copenhagen: F.H. Eibes Forlag, 1875.
      Foreign editions of Dickens’ works give us a sense of the author’s popularity and reception in places outside England. Of course many editions appeared in the United States, but some appeared in other countries. Shown here is a Danish edition of A Tale of Two Cities, taken from a set of Dickens’ collected works, with the famous opening line - “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” - rendered in Danish.
    • Dickens, C. (tr. P. Grolier) Aventures de M. Pickwick. Paris: Nelson, Éditeurs, [c19--?]
      P. Grolier produced this French translation of Dickens’ early work The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in the early twentieth century. It was part of the publisher’s “Collection Nelson,” which presented well-known works in a small format, with colorful dust jackets, and illustrations accompanying the text, all at an affordable price, as seen here (60c. Net). Despite the intent to market this to a wide audience, today few copies can be found in libraries: only a few reside in America, and Vassar appears to be the only institution in New York to own a copy.
  7. Cheap Editions
    • Dickens, C. Great Expectations. Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson & Brothers, c1861.
      Publishers also tried to increase the size of Dickens’ audience by making “cheap editions” available. Various aspects of such books revealed them to be produced at low cost. The text of this nineteenth century American edition, for example, is rendered in a very small typeface (to conserve paper), and there are no illustrations except the one on the front cover. At the back of the book are several pages of advertisements for other works, including the complete works of Dickens.
    • --. A Christmas Carol and Other Tales. London: Edward Lloyd, [ca. 1910]
      Here is a twentieth century “cheap edition” of several tales by Dickens. Lloyd’s Sixpenny Dickens consisted of more than thirty editions. Some novels were divided into two volumes. All have characteristics that are similar to other cheap editions, though they did include illustrations. According to a printed note on the back of the title page, the series was published by the proprietors of The Daily Chronicle and Lloyd’s Weekly News, by arrangement with Chapman and Hall Ltd.
  8. Adaptations for Children
    • Dickens, Charles. The Child-wife from the David Copperfield of Charles Dickens. New York: Clark, Austin, Maynard & Co., c1860.
      “Dickens’ Little Folks” was an American series of books for children. The texts of Dickens are used - in this case David Copperfield - but they are greatly edited and attention is focused on child characters. In the prefatory material we read that the publishers hoped to reach “a new class of readers,” by bringing “these famous stories from the library to the nursery.” In all, the series produced twelve adaptations of works by Dickens for children.
    • Thorndike, R. David Copperfield: a Charles Dickens Story Told for Children. London: Raphael Tuck & Sons, [194-?], and other stories.
      Unlike the “Little folks” series, this series is a retelling of Dickens’ stories, for children, by Russell Thorndike, the British actor and novelist. None of Dickens’ own words are used in these presentations. Most of Dickens’ original novels were lengthy; the Thorndike adaptations, in contrast, were each only thirty-three pages long, much more digestible for young readers. These booklets included several black and white illustrations, and colorful paper wrappers showing scenes from the novels.
  9. Juvenile Drama
    • Pollock’s Juvenile Drama. Oliver Twist, or, The Parish Boy’s Progress. London: B. Pollock, [ca.1860]. Podeschi C35.
      Dickens’ work reached young audiences in other ways besides adaptations of the novels. Pollock’s Juvenile Drama consisted of a number of colorful sheets of characters and scenes from Oliver Twist, to be cut out and perhaps mounted on cardboard, all for use in a miniature theater. There was also an accompanying booklet, which provided to children the dialogue of the characters. It is amazing that an ephemeral piece of this kind, made of paper, has survived in such good condition.
  10. Plays
    • Broadside advertisement for a performance of Oliver Twist at the Howard Athenæum, Boston, 1861.
      From an early age Dickens was very interested in the theater, and during his lifetime he held a variety of positions relating to the stage, ranging from actor to playwright to stage manager. All of his own novels have been dramatized and performed in England and the United States. This broadside advertised a dramatic performance of Oliver Twist more than two decades after the publication of the novel. It highlights the appearance of Charlotte Cushman, a Bostonian and prominent nineteenth century actress, in the play.
    • Dickens, C. The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home in Three Chirps. Leeds: F.R. Spark and Co., [1870?] (Podeschi C101) and Thomas H. Lacy, The Pickwickians, or, The Peregrinations of Sam Weller: A Comic Drama in Three Acts. London: S. French, [188-?]
      Here are the texts of two dramatic adaptations of works by Dickens. Cricket on the Hearth was based on a novella by Dickens - the best-known of his Christmas stories - first published in 1845. The Pickwickians was of course based on the author’s first novel, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The reference to an “acting edition,” on the front cover, and the presence of ads for costumes and scenery elsewhere in the booklet, suggest that it was intended for nineteenth century actors and actresses.
  11. Character Illustrations
    • [Clarke, J. Clayton] The Characters of Charles Dickens: Pourtrayed in a Series of Original Water Colour Sketches by “Kyd”. London: Raphael Tuck & Sons, [1889]. Podeschi H1037.
      Both during Dickens’ lifetime and later, illustrators have produced visual depictions of his characters, which influence our reception of them. “Kyd” was the pseudonym of J. Clayton Clarke, an English illustrator who during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was especially known for his watercolors of characters from Dickens, such as this one of Mrs. Gamp, who appeared in Martin Chuzzlewit. Kyd’s illustrations from Dickens appeared in periodicals, books, and even postcards.
    • Lewin, F.G. Characters from Dickens: A Portfolio of 20 Vandyck Gravures From the Drawings of F.G. Lewin, With an Introduction by B.W. Matz. London: Chapman & Hall, 1912. Podeschi H1104.
      This visual interpretation of Dickens’ characters was produced by F.G. Lewin, who worked in the early twentieth century, producing illustrations for periodicals like Punch, and for his own collections. The portfolio celebrated the 100th anniversary of Dickens’ birth. On the cover we see an image of Mr. Pickwick, a leading character in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Inside the portfolio are single sheets of similar monochromatic engravings of characters from various novels of Dickens.
  12. Public Readings
    • The Readings of Mr. Charles Dickens, As Condensed by Himself. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1868, including A Christmas Carol and The Trial from Pickwick, and David Copperfield and Mr. Bob Sawyer’s Party (from Pickwick). Podeschi D52.
      Another way that audiences became familiar with Dickens’ stories was through his public readings. Initially he gave such readings for charity, but eventually it became an important for-profit activity. During the 1850s and 60s, Dickens toured England, Ireland, and America, giving readings based on scenes from his novels. A Christmas Carol was especially popular. The American tour was particularly profitable for Dickens; the publications shown here were printed in the same year that he made this tour.
    • Photograph: “Reading to the public 1858”. Pope-Hennessy, Una. Charles Dickens. New York: Howell, Soskin, [1946]
      From photographs like this one, as well as from contemporary reviews, we have some sense of what it must have been like to see Dickens at one of his public readings. On stage he used a desk or reading table, and often a screen behind him helped project his voice to the audience. Dickens used no props while on stage, but relied on his skills as an actor to help bring his stories to life.
  13. Musical Scores
    • Godfrey, Dan. “Little Nell: Waltz.” London: Chappell & Co., 1860s.
      During the nineteenth century a considerable amount of music was produced based on characters or scenes from Dickens’ novels. Often the music was inscribed or dedicated to an important person, or the author himself. Daniel Godfrey was a composer and bandmaster for a regiment of guards in the British army; his “Little Nell, Waltz” was published in both London and New York. The music is for piano, and consists of an introduction, four waltzes, and a coda.
  14. Later Periodicals
    • Household Words: A Weekly Journal, Conducted by Charles Dickens. Volume 1. London: Office of Household Words, 1850. Podeschi E113.
      Today Dickens is primarily known as a novelist, and relatively few people are aware of his work as a periodical editor. Yet for many years he edited important titles. He was deeply involved in Household Words, which was published from 1850 to 1859. He had a large ownership stake, and oversaw all aspects of production. Some of Dickens’ novels appeared here for the first time, as well as the novels of other writers, like Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins.
    • All the Year Round: A Weekly Journal, Conducted by Charles Dickens, with which is Incorporated Household Words. New Series, volume 1. London: Chapman and Hall, 1869. Podeschi E21.
      In 1859 Dickens had an argument with the publisher of Household Words, and in response he founded his own periodical, All the Year Round. This periodical was similar to the previous title in that several works of Dickens and his contemporaries appeared here for the first time. Among these were Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. After Dickens’ death, All the Year Round was published by his son, Charles Dickens, Jr., until 1895.
  15. Stamps
    • Cinderella stamps commemorating the centenary of Dickens’ birth. Created by the Charles Dickens Centenary Testimonial Committee and published by Strand Magazine, London and New York, 1912.
      As early as 1910 the New York Times reported that plans were afoot to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dickens’ birth. In 1912 the Charles Dickens Centenary Testimonial Committee issued the stamps shown here in order to pay tribute to the author’s genius. They have monetary value, but are not valid for postage. They could be placed in books, though sometimes they were placed on envelopes or postcards along with postage stamps. These stamps were produced for England, but a similar set was produced for the United States.
    • Postage stamps commemorating the centenary of Dickens’ death. Kenmore Stamp Co., 1970.
      These commemorative stamps from a variety of countries (including Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Antigua) also function as official postage stamps. All of these examples show one of the most famous scenes from Oliver Twist: the one where young Oliver asks the workhouse master for an additional serving of food with the words “Please, sir, I want some more.” The original illustration for this scene, as noted earlier, was produced by George Cruikshank.
  16. Collected Editions
    • Gadshill Edition, The works of Charles Dickens in Thirty-four Volumes. London: Chapman & Hall, 1897-1899. Volume 10: The Old Curiosity Shop. Podeschi D140.
      A number of editions of the collected works of Dickens have been published since the middle of the nineteenth century. The Gadshill Edition (referring to the name of the house where Dickens lived at the end of his life) was based on an earlier edition that Dickens had helped correct in the late 1860s (the so-called “Charles Dickens Edition”). The Gadshill Edition was a thirty-four volume set, though several other volumes were added in the early twentieth century.
    • The Nonesuch Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop. Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1937. Podeschi D212.
      Francis Meynell founded the Nonesuch Press, a private press that operated in England from the 1920s to the 1960s. Though Nonesuch editions were typically printed on machine presses and made available to a wide reading public, the Nonesuch Dickens was limited to 877 sets. It produced the author’s works in twenty-three volumes, with an accompanying box containing an original steel plate of an illustration. Apart from Dickens’ novels, the set includes collected papers, letters, and a volume of reprinted pieces.
  17. Later Editions
    • Dickens, C. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Oxford: Limited Editions Club, 1933. 2 volumes.
      In addition to collected editions, a great many editions of individual works of Dickens have appeared. Some of these - like the Nonesuch volume in case 16 - are examples of fine printing. Featuring an introduction by the British author G.K. Chesterton, and many colorful illustrations by John Austen, this volume of Pickwick was produced for members of the Limited Editions Club. John Johnson, printer to the University of Oxford, was the printer.
    • --. Hard Times For These Times. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1966.
      The Limited Editions Club had been founded in 1929 by George Macy; its mission for much of the twentieth century was to produce finely made editions of the classics of literature. For many years the editions (like this one) were limited to 1,500 copies, though this changed in later years. This edition of Dickens’ Hard Times was printed by Joseph Blumenthal at the Spiral Press in New York. It is introduced by John T. Winterich, and is signed by Charles Raymond, the illustrator.
  18. Spoons and China
    • Commemorative spoon set featuring Dickens characters, with accompanying rack. Franklin Mint, 1981.
      Dickens and his characters have made their way into the culture not only through print, but also via other kinds of media. A marketplace for a variety of artifacts and three-dimensional objects has developed. The pewter spoons displayed here depict characters from (in order from the top left) The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. Each spoon is hand-painted.
    • Bone china plate with portrait commemorating the centenary of Dickens’ death. Spode, 1970.
      Like the stamps shown in Case 15, this plate commemorates the 100th anniversary of Dickens’ death. It was produced by Spode, the famous china manufacturer that has been operating in England since the eighteenth century. The process for making fine bone china like this - originally known as “Stoke china” - was discovered in the 1790s. On the back of the plate is a note stating that it is one in a limited edition of 5,000.
  19. Biographies
    • Forster, John. The Life of Charles Dickens. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872-1874. Volume 1. Podeschi 187.
      The first major biography of Dickens was produced by his friend John Forster. Forster was an English editor and writer who began to write about Dickens in the late 1860s. His three volume work drew on his personal knowledge of the author, and his collection of papers relating to Dickens. The work has been reprinted numerous times since its first appearance in the early 1870s, and despite its age, today it still stands as an important source for students of Dickens.
    • Smiley, Jane. Charles Dickens. New York: Viking, 2002.
      Since Forster, many other biographies of Dickens have been published; one of the most recent is by Pultizer Prize winning novelist and Vassar alumna Jane Smiley. Her work is part of the “Penguin Lives” series, which is described by the publisher as “great writers on great figures.” Smiley tries to “avoid the dreary illusion of superiority that comes when critics and biographers purport to know a subject better than…the subject knew himself.” She also offers interpretations of nearly all of Dickens’ major works.
  20. Videos
    • A Tale of Two Cities. 1989. Produced by Roy Roberts and directed by Phillipe Monnier. 240 minutes. WGBH Educational Foundation.
      Film adaptations of Dickens’ works have a long history. In the early twentieth century nearly one hundred silent versions were produced, and many others have followed since. This Masterpiece Theatre version lasted four hours, and starred James Wilby, Xavier Deluc, Serena Gordon, John Mills, Jean-Pierre Aumont, and Anna Massey. One review of the film called it “a revolutionary version…the crowds are dirty, the love is red hot, and the guillotine works.”
    • Great Expectations. 1989. Produced by Greg Smith and directed by Kevin Connor. 303 minutes. Walt Disney Company.
      There have been many film adaptations of Great Expectations, the first being a 1917 silent movie version. The adaptation shown here was made for TV, specifically for the Disney Channel. It is quite long, lasting about five and a half hours. Anthony Calf plays the character Pip, Kim Thompson is Estella, Jean Simmons is Miss Haversham, and Anthony Hopkins appears as Magwitch. The film was well-received, and in 1990 it was nominated for four primetime Emmy awards.