DICKENS, CHARLES. 1812-1870.
Autograph Manuscript leaf from The Pickwick Papers, being a section of Chapter 37, 1 p recto only, 4to, [London, shortly before April 1837], paginated "72" at head, with several deletions and amendments by the author, light toning at folds, chip to lower left margin, laid in red morocco moiré silk-lined folder and morocco-backed clamshell.
Provenance: Charles Hicks, foreman-printer at Bradbury & Evans; Compte Alain de Suzannet, part of a group of 11 leaves (his sale, Sotheby's, November 22, 1971, lot 303); Paul Francis Webster (his sale, Sotheby's New York, April 24, 1985, lot 26).
Exhibited: Grolier Club, The Grolier Club Collects, 2002, p 62.
A LEAF OF DICKENS' WORKING MANUSCRIPT, used by Bradbury and Evans, printers to Chapman and Hall, in the setting of type.
The 25-year-old Dickens, working on his first novel, delivered his manuscript to the publishers in monthly bundles. The work was serialized between April 1836 and November 1837, gaining popularity with each issue. The vast majority of the holograph manuscript was discarded after the type was set, and fewer than 50 leaves of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club were salvaged by one of the printers at Bradbury and Evans. Of the surviving leaves, some 35 or more are in institutions. The present leaf is one of 12 consecutive leaves from Chapter 37 (pp 71-80), originally in the Suzannet Collection and dispersed in 1971.
This passage of the novel finds Pickwick and his friends in Bath, where Sam Weller is surprised to receive an invitation to dine with one of the city's "select footmen." Pickwick grants him permission to accept, and Sam is escorted to the banquet hall by a certain Mr John Smauker.
"... which was readily granted. With this permission,
and the street-door-key, Sam Weller issued
forth a little before the appointed time,
and strolled leisurely towards Queen Square,
which he no sooner gained than he
had the satisfaction of beholding Mr
John Smauker leaning his powdered head against a lamp
post at a short distance off, smoking a
cigar through an amber tube.
'How do you do Mr Weller' said Mr
John Smauker, raising his hat gracefully with
one hand while he gently waved the
other in a condescending manner. 'How do
you do Sir?'
'Why, reasonably convalescent' replied
Sam 'How do you find yourself my
'Only so, so' said Mr John Smauker.
'Ah, you've been a workin' too hard'
observed Sam 'I was fearful you should;
it won't do you know: you must not give
way to that 'ere uncompromising spirit o'you'rne.'
'It's not so much that Mr Weller' re-
plied Mr John Smauker 'I'm afraid I've been
'Oh that's it, is it' said Sam 'That's ..."
We can trace only two other Pickwick leaves at auction since 1971: the Suzannet-Starling-Self leaf, p 75, Christie's New York, April 2, 2008, lot 16, and the Self Collection example offered by Christie's the following year.