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Charles Dickens's reading copy of Bardell and Pickwick, Mr Chops, the Dwarf, Mr Bob Sawyer's Party



Object number (per part)

[lib]6687, 1971.1.99

Object name (per part)



Bardell and Pickwick
Bardell and Pickwick. Mr. Chops, The Dwarf, Mr. Bob Sawyer's Party

Production person

Dickens, Charles

Production organisation

William Clowes and Sons

Production date



Dickens had these three stories bound together into one reading copy, probably in 1861. Bardell and Pickwick was his most popular public reading, and Dickens likely knew it by heart, which explains the lack of adaptations and annotations in this chapter. The other stories, Mr. Chops, the Dwarf and Mr. Bob Sawyer’s Party, however, contain the usual extensive manuscript adaptations and notes that Dickens added to his reading copies.

Acqusition history

The book was originally part of Dickens's library at Gad's Hill, and appears on Henry Southeran's 1878 valuation of Dickens's library.
It contains the book plates of previous owners George Gurney and Edward Arnold.
It was purchased by the Comte de Suzannet through Sotheby's in March 1937 from Edward Arnold's son.
It forms part of the Suzannet Collection, and was donated to the Museum by the Comtesse de Suzannet in 1971.

Physical description

82 pages (including title) red half morocco gilt in a cloth slip-case, olive-green gilt back

Object history note

A Reading Copy is a book which has been highlighted and or annotated by the reader. In Charles Dickens’s case, he edited, annotated and physically altered copies of his own works to assist him in performing his public readings. He would include stage directions for himself, and often used different coloured inks to indicate deletions or other kinds of information. Some volumes also have pages purposefully stuck together, where they were to be omitted from the performance. Dickens would eventually get select passages of his works reprinted with large margins to better allow for his notes and annotations, which he would later sell or gift to friends.

This is Charles Dickens's reading copy of Bardell and Pickwick. Mr. Chops, The Dwarf, Mr. Bob Sawyer's Party from around 1861. It is three readings, one in each chapter, two of which have been heavily altered. It contains Charles Dickens’s bookplate, the Comte de Suzannet book plate, George Curney book plate and Edward Arnold book plates. It also contains the plate 'From the Library at Gads Hill'.

With the volume is the following autograph note (on paper headed 8 Devonshire Place, Eastbourne): "To my friend Andrew Arnold as a remembrance of his friend George Gurney also as a tribute for his filial affection and an appreciation of his literary taste December 1901" and a printed slip of Arnold's authorship. Also, a collection of newspaper cuttings relating to the trial episode in Pickwick Papers made by Arnold, and a cutting from The Daily Telegraph 27 March 1937, recording the sale of the volume at Sotheby's.

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