Auctions | April 25, 2012

Dickens' Personal Copy of Copperfield at Christie's London

London - Christie's is proud to announce that they will offer Charles Dickens's personal copy of David Copperfield in the sale of Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts on 13 June 2012. Charles Dickens (1812-1870), widely known as one of the greatest authors of the English language, penned this novel in 1850. A signed first edition of Dickens's eighth novel which is known to have been his “favourite child”, this book is expected to realise between £30,000 and £50,000. Inscribed to “Brookes of Sheffield”, Dickens sent this personal copy to the knife and tool manufacturer in May 1851. Dickens had included a character in David Copperfield with the similar name of "Brooks of Sheffield?; in a letter dated 25 April 1851 Dickens wrote to the manufacturer telling them that the introduction of the name into the book was pure coincidence. Having received a gift of a case of cutlery from Brooks of Sheffield, Dickens presented them with his own copy of the book to counteract the common superstition that if a knife is given as a gift, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed.

Margaret Ford, Director and Head of the Books and Manuscripts Department, Christie?s London: “It is always exciting to be able to handle an author’s copy, knowing that the very book has been held in the author’s own hands. It is therefore especially exciting to be able to offer in this important anniversary year a first edition copy of Dickens’s favourite book, David Copperfield, not only inscribed by Dickens but from his personal library.”

The book is accompanied by an autographed letter from Dickens presenting the copy to Messrs Brookes in which Dickens also apologises for the delay in their receiving the gift.

Over the past 35 years only two presentation copies of David Copperfield have been seen at auction; in comparison with a copy of the book which has simply been signed by the author, presentation copies are more valuable as the author has gone to the trouble and expense of giving the book to someone - indicating a more meaningful degree of relationship.

The most autobiographical of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield had enormous personal importance to its author. Many of the most painful episodes of his life were only thinly veiled in the book, leading Dickens to speak of the difficulty of "dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world.? In his preface to the 1869 edition, Dickens writes: "Of all my books, I like this the best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.? Christie's holds the record price for a copy of David Copperfield at auction.

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