Charles Dickens at 200

Great Expectations in book form

inscription in Great Expectations

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Great Expectations was first published as a "three-decker" (in three clothbound volumes) in June 1861, shortly before the end of its magazine serialization in All the Year Round. It was never issued in monthly parts. The 3-volume edition, in original condition, is quite rare; according to Dickens bibliographer John Eckel, "nearly the entire first edition [of 1000 copies] was bought up by the libraries." These were lending libraries, which charged a fee for those who wished to borrow and read current novels and other books. However, this copy was purchased by an individual when it was "hot off the press," for it is was presented as a gift on July 25, 1861, evidenced by the inscription to Emily Harrison by her husband.

Great Expectations catalogue of books page

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Smith's copy of this three-decker novel was originally purchased from W.H. Smith & Son, The Strand, London (there is an embossed bookseller's stamp at the front of volume 1). One hundred and one years later, it was acquired from Goodspeed's Book Shop in Boston. This copy was featured on the cover and as the first item in their sale catalogue dated December 1962. The catalogue description verifies that this copy is a genuine first edition, in part because Chapman & Hall's 32-page book catalogue is at the end of volume three.

Great Expectations
London: Chapman and Hall, 1861. Three volumes


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