The Vann Victorian Collection : Social Reform

Gaskell, Elizabeth C. Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life. Leipzig, 1849. Print.

Elizabeth Gaskell was a successful novelist who serialized three of her novels in Dickens’s Household Words. This volume has an interesting provenance, for it belonged to Anne Thackeray (1837–1919), whose initials “A.I.P” are found gilt-stamped into the first spine compartment from the head and whose signature appears at the top of the title page. The eldest daughter of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, Anne was a lifelong friend of the Dickens children. She published half a dozen novels as well as many short stories. Many of Gaskell’s observations on the hardships of the working class—sickness, hunger and poverty—are found in Mary Barton.

This volume is 400 pages (later editions were 423 pages), ¾ bound with marbled paper over boards. The spine is in six compartments with a gilt-stamped title in the second compartment from the head. 

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Sparks, Timothy. Sunday Under Three Heads: As It Is, As Sabbath Bills Would Make It, As It Might Be. Illus. H.K. Browne. London, 1836. Print.

This pamphlet, which Dickens published under the pseudonym Timothy Sparks, is a critique on advocates of a rigid adherence to the Sabbath. Dickens believed that the working class, who typically only had one day off from work, should be allowed to enjoy their day off in any way they wished. This pamphlet is one of Dickens’s earliest published works. 

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Dickens, Charles. 'Lloyd's' Sixpenny Dickens. Illus. A B. Frost, J G. Thomson, Frederick Barnard, John M. L. Ralston, Edward G. Dalziel, Luke Fildes, Francis A. Fraser, Henry French, J Mahoney, Charles Green, Hablot K. Browne, and John Forster. London, 1909. Print.

This very inexpensive edition of the works of Dickens shows how enterprising publishers could cash in on the popularity of Dickens. For a very small sum one could assemble a collection of Dickens’s works. Volume 18 (Little Dorrit) and Volume 21 (Nicholas Nickleby) are shown here. 

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