Master Humphrey's Clock (In 88 Weekly Parts)

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Author: Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870)

Year: 4 April 1840 - 27 November 1841

Publisher: Chapman and Hall

Place: London


88 weekly parts with three frontispieces and numerous wood engravings in the text by George Cattermole, Hablot K. Browne and others. Quarto (10 1/2" x 7") bound in publisher's 88 original pictorial weekly parts in printed white self-wrappers, uncut, housed  green cloth slipcase and chemise. ( Eckel, pp. 61-65; Hatton & Cleaver, pp. 161-182) First edition, first issue.

With preliminaries (frontispiece, title-page, and Preface) for the three volume edition present in numbers 26, 52, and 88; addresses by the author in parts 9, 80-83, and 87; a tipped in advertisement to pt. 62 for Chambers’s Journal of Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure. Each weekly part was issued as a single folded sheet of 16 pages, 4 of which formed the outer wrapper around 12 numbered pages of letterpress. "Of the four issues the weekly one is difficult to obtain in a clean condition and is therefore the costliest" (Eckel). All 88 parts include front wrappers with an engraved design by George Cattermole which was engraved in wood by E. Landells. One of the first works to be published in both weekly and monthly parts,

Master Humphrey's Clock was a weekly periodical edited and written entirely by Charles Dickens and published from 4 April 1840 to 4 December 1841. It began with a frame story in which Master Humphrey tells about himself and his small circle of friends and their penchant for telling stories. Several short stories were included, followed by the novels The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. It is generally thought that Dickens originally intended The Old Curiosity Shop as a short story like the others that had appeared in Master Humphrey's Clock, but after a few chapters decided to extend it into a novel. Master Humphrey appears as the first-person narrator in the first three chapters of The Old Curiosity Shop but then disappears, stating, "And now that I have carried this history so far in my own character and introduced these personages to the reader, I shall for the convenience of the narrative detach myself from its further course, and leave those who have prominent and necessary parts in it to speak and act for themselves."

Master Humphrey is a lonely man who lives in London. He keeps old manuscripts in an antique longcase clock by the chimney-corner. One day, he decides that he would start a little club, called Master Humphrey's Clock, where the members would read out their manuscripts to the others. The members include Master Humphrey; a deaf gentleman; Jack Redburn; retired merchant Owen Miles; and Mr. Pickwick from The Pickwick Papers. A mirror club in the kitchen, Mr. Weller's Watch, run by Mr. Weller, has members including Humphrey's maid, the barber and Sam Weller.

Master Humphrey's Clock appeared after The Old Curiosity Shop, to introduce Barnaby Rudge. After Barnaby Rudge, Master Humphrey is left by himself by the chimney corner in a train of thoughts. Here, the deaf gentleman continues the narration. Later, the deaf gentleman and his friends return to Humphrey's house to find him dead. Humphrey has left money for the barber and the maid (no doubt by traces of love that they would be married). Redburn and the deaf gentleman look after the house and the club closes for good.

In the portion of Master Humphrey's Clock which succeeds The Old Curiosity Shop, Master Humphrey reveals to his friends that he is the character referred to as the 'single gentleman' in that story.


Some soiling and chipping, a few soft creases,  some chipping and light soiling, a few leaves becoming detached, Slipcase with some rubbing to edges else very good in like slipcase.

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