The London Household Edition of Our Mutual Friend differs in a number of respects from the New York printing. Because the type face is larger and the pages are framed — both in imitation of the format of Household Words — the Chapman and Hall version is considerably longer. Each chapter in the Chapman and Hall printing begins with an ornamental initial letter, very similar in appearance to the initial letters in The Graphic. As one would expect, the Harper Brothers edition has corrected all spellings to standard American usage.
Although the pages are approximately the same size — 24.2 cm high by 18 cm wide for the Chapman & Hall versus 24.6 cm high by 17.2 cm wide for the Harper's — and the plates are identical in size, the finer print in the New York edition renders it just 347 pages in length, as opposed to 420 for the London printing. Since the paper used by Harper's is a little more "pulpy" (i. e., has a lower rag content) its pages are thinner and have somewhat yellowed with age. Although Chapman & Hall gives no date of publication, it seems likely that both books were printed in 1875. Among the notable differences are the full-page illustration used for the frontispiece ("Jenny twisted her venerable friend aside to a brilliantly lighted toy-shop window, and said: 'Now look at 'em! All my work!'" in Harper's, but "Lizzie, looking for her father, saw him coming, and stood upon the causeway that he might see her." in the Chapman & Hall) and the inclusion of a thorough list of illustrations in the latter, dividing the four full-page plates, "Page Illustrations," from the remaining 54 "Illustrations in the Text," i. e., dropped into the letter-press, usually at mid-page, with 4.5 cm of text above and 4.5 cm of text below the half-page plate. The American and English captions are often similar, but the American edition tends to use shorter ones, and a few (as the reader will note in the individual commentaries for Mahoney's illustrations) are rather different, so that the Chapman and Hall printing seems to be more consistently pointing to specific passages in the letter-press.
Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. Il. James Mahoney. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall; New York, Harper Brothers, 1875.
Last modified 7 December 2010