"The Title-Page," for the 1838 Richard Bentley edition of "Oliver Twist"
For the first edition of The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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In 1838, Charles Dickens, young though he was, was the editor of the monthly journal Bentley's Miscellany, even as he was completing the serial run of Pickwick Papers with Chapman and Hall. Boz's other publisher, Richard Bentley (1794-1871), with a proprietory right in Oliver Twist from serilisation was legally entitled to capitalize on the popularity of Boz's Pickwick by bringing out Oliver Twist, or, the Parish Boy's Progress, by "Boz" as a triple-decker in November 1838, well ahead of the end of its serial run in the magazine the following April.
The octavo volumes of the first three impressions actually exhibit a significant variation, the so-called Fireside Plate; Oliver and His Family at the conclusion of the third volume. Since Dickens required Cruikshank to re-draft the final illustration utterly, only a few of the Bentley third volumes, those first off the press, contain the cancelled plate. All others (from the second and third impressions) have, instead, Rose Maylie and Oliver — The Church Plate. An 1838 octavo set containing the cancelled plate, in faded reddish-brown diaper cloth, recently listed for £14,500.
On the title-page of the 1838 novel, the author is identified as "Boz" — that is to say, the author of the humorous Sketches by Boz. Illustrative of every-day life and every-day people, based on jounalistic pieces published between 1833 and 1836 in three periodicals: The Monthly Magazine, The Morning Chronicle, and Bell's Life in London. It was not until after the appearance of Oliver Twist in volume form that the collected edition of the fifty-six sketches was published in volume form. Quarrelling with Bentley over finances and editorial interference, Charles Dickens gave up the editor's post in February 1839, his farewell piece for the journal being "Familiar Epistle from a Parent to a Child aged Two Years and Two Months." Dickens's final negotiations with Richard Bentley involved the purchase of the copyrights for Oliver Twist, Chapman and Hall ultimately advancing the necessary £2,250.
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.
Cohen, Jane Rabb. "George Cruikshank." Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980. Pp. 15-38.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress. Il. George Cruikshank. London: Bradbury and Evans; Chapman and Hall, 1846.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. The Annotated Dickens. Ed. Edward Guiliano and Philip Collins. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1986. Vol. 1. Pp. 534-823.
Forster, John. "Oliver Twist 1838." The Life of Charles Dickens. Ed. B. W. Matz. The Memorial Edition. 2 vols. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1911. Vol. 1, book 2, chapter 3. Pp. 91-99.
Kitton, Frederic G. "George Cruikshank." Dickens and His Illustrators: Cruikshank, Seymour, Buss, "Phiz," Cattermole, Leech, Doyle, Stanfield, Maclise, Tenniel, Frank Stone, Topham, Marcus Stone, and Luke Fildes. 1899. Rpt. Honolulu: U. Press of the Pacific, 2004. Pp. 1-28.
Last modified 20 October 2014