Actually 36 volumes – includes two volumes on The Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster
The Works of Charles Dickens, in Thirty-Four Volumes

The world has seen many talented wordsmiths in literature, but few can hold a candle to the skill of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), especially when it comes to bleakness, hardship and injustice. After all, how many famous figures can boast that their name became an adjective (in this case ‘Dickensian’) meaning squalid, grim and poverty-stricken? That’s an impressive accomplishment of excellent descriptive writing (if perhaps somewhat depressing).

Dickens was a 19th-century English novelist whose work was best known for being, aside from bleak, highly realistic and descriptive with fully developed and highly relatable characters. He occasionally wrote under the pen-name Boz (pronounced "Boze" - rhymes with rose), from a family nickname given to his youngest brother - just one of myriad interesting Charles Dickens facts. Throughout his career, Dickens authored over a dozen major novels, which were usually published originally as monthly serials, as well as a large number of short stories and a handful of books of non-fiction. Among his most famous works is A Christmas Carol, the cautionary tale whose film adaptations have become a traditional Christmas staple in many homes each year.

While his death occurred nearly 150 years ago, his books remain popular and often read, and some of his characters – Oliver Twist, Ebenezer Scrooge, David Copperfield and many more – are among the most iconic and best-known in literary history.

Read on for some interesting trivia and facts about Charles Dickens, a list of our top 10 most expensive Charles Dickens sales, and to experience some real Dickensian classics from the suffering endured in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist to the changing world of A Tale of Two Cities.


10 Most Expensive Charles Dickens Works Sold on AbeBooks

1. Works of Charles Dickens - £7,932
22 volumes, including a signed letter from 1859 to Peter Cunningham (who appeared in “Not So Bad As We Seem” with Dickens in 1851)in which Dickens presents this his library edition “in remembrance of an old engagement between us.”

2. A Christmas Carol - £4,759
A first edition, first issue copy published by Chapman & Hall in 1843 with illustrations by John Leech. 

3. A Tale of Two Cities - £4,410
The first edition from 1859 by Chapman & Hall, from the original 8-in-7 serial parts, leather-bound in three-quarter red morocco with gilt-paneled spine, top edge gilt and including with all wrappers and ads. 

4. David Copperfield - £4,380
In the original parts no. 1-20 in 19 by Bradbury & Evans, 1849-50 with engraved plates by H.K. Browne aka Phiz. 

5. Works of Charles Dickens - £2,793
Complete in 10 volumes bound in full green morocco with raised bands, decorative gilt tooling to the spines, gilt rule to the boards, and all edges gilt.

6. Oliver Twist - £2,770
This first edition from 1838 in three volumes is the first issue with 'Boz' on title page and with the 'Fireside' plate in vol. 3.  Dickens did not like Boz on the spine and title, and after a week of distribution had this and the famous ‘fireside’ plate changed.  As such one can really pinpoint the date of issue to one week in November 1838.  Oliver Twist was not issued in parts like most of Dickens’ other works so this is really the first edition in the first week of printing.

7. Master Humphrey’s Clock - £2,550
The original 88 weekly installments set in a handsome green cloth box by Sangorski and Sutcliffe.  The publication includes illustrations by George Cattermole & Phiz

8. A Christmas Carol  - £2,529
A second edition, second state copy of Dickens' most famous of his five Christmas books, in cinnamon cloth and gold-gilt cover designs and page edges and included a former owner's inscription. 

9. A Christmas Carol - £2,062
The 10th edition, published 1844, was the first to be bound in the bright red cloth which would be used for Dickens' four subsequent Christmas books.

10. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club - £2,051
First edition thus from 1838, Van Diemen's Land Edition (Tasmania), bound in contemporary half brown morocco and containing 18 plates which were originally crafted by Phiz, except in this edition local Tasmanian artist “Tiz” aka Thomas Lempriere copied and/or adapted the illustrations.

 

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A Selection of Collectable Dickens

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Bleak House
by Charles Dickens

Bradbury & Evans, published monthly over 1852-1853 in nineteen monthly parts. 40 plates with illustrations by Hablot K. Browne, aka Phiz.
The Christmas Books Being A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and the Haunted Man by Charles Dickens.
A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and the Haunted Man
by Charles Dickens

All five Christmas books together by A. & F Pears Ltd, Centenary Edition, 1912.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

This rare and exquisitely detailed edition comes in full red morocco Cosway binding, with the miniature inlaid portrait.
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
by Charles Dickens

Green cloth binding with gilt decorations to spine and cover, the Household Edition of this work, illustrated by F. Barnard.
The Mudfog Papers by Charles Dickens
The Mudfog Papers
by Charles Dickens

A series of short satirical pieces by Dickens. This edition is from the Leisure Hour Series by Henry Holt of New York. 1880.
The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
The Cricket on the Hearth
by Charles Dickens

By J.M. Dent & Co.of London. Beautiful gilt-decorated boards. Illustrated with eight colour plates and drawings in the text by C. E. Brock.
Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
Dombey and Son
by Charles Dickens

Limited Editions Club, 1957 edition of this Dickens classic in two volumes. Illustrated by Henry Pitz.
The Short Stories of Charles Dickens
The Short Stories of Charles Dickens

This Easton Press edition is beautiful and affordable, bound in leather and accented with real 22kt gold.

The Personal History of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Personal History of David Copperfield
by Charles Dickens

This 1911 trade edition by Hodder and Stoughton is beautifully bound in red cloth with black and gilt decorations and includes 20 tipped-in color plates.
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit
by Charles Dickens

This edition of Little Dorrit, originally a serial novel published over 1855-1857, is an affordable single-volume published by Estes & Lauriat.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens

The relatively scarce first one volume U.S. edition. The book had been previously serialised in Harper's Weekly.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Hard Times
by Charles Dickens

Easton Press’ 1966 treatment of Dickens’ 10th novel is gorgeous as always, in full red leather.
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
Barnaby Rudge
by Charles Dickens

1842 First American Edition by Lea & Blanchard complete with engravings by Yaeger from designs by Sibson, Cattermole and Browne.
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
by Charles Dickens

This 1901 Chapman & Hall edition includes illustrations by Phiz, real name Hablot Knight Browne.

Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens
Sketches by Boz
by Charles Dickens

A collection of fiction and non-fiction short stories by Dickens in two volumes by John Macrone of London, 1836.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens

One of Dickens’ most popular novels, this edition of the story told by Pip the orphan comes from German publisher Bernhard Tauchnitz in two volumes.
The Battle of Life: A Love Story by Charles Dickens
The Battle of Life: A Love Story
by Charles Dickens

Bradbury & Evans, London, 1846. Contains a beautiful wood-engraved frontispiece and title page as well as 11 more engravings interspersed throughout the text.
The Chimes by Charles Dickens
The Chimes
by Charles Dickens

Limited Editions Club, 1931 – 1500 numbered copies signed by illustrator Arthur Rackham, who provided the six full page and 14 smaller black and white drawings.

The Personal History Of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Personal History Of David Copperfield
by Charles Dickens

The Franklin Library, a division of the Franklin Mint known for exquisite bindings, published this lovely edition of The Personal History of David Copperfield.
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club by Charles Dickens
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
by Charles Dickens

1910 First edition illustrated by Cecil Aldin, in two volumes bound in vellum-like tan cloth. Includes 24 color plates.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
by Charles Dickens

The final novel by Charles Dickens, a monthly serial which remained unfinished at his death. All six parts from 1870, Chapman & Hall.
The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The Adventures of Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens

In decorated red cloth, 1899 by MacMillan & Co. Illustrated by George Cruikshank.
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain by Charles Dickens
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain
by Charles Dickens

1907. In cream stiff vellum covers with gilt cherubic decorations and lettering, cover & spine. Bright color illustrations by C.E. Brock throughout.
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Our Mutual Friend
by Charles Dickens

This 1865 first authorised U.S. edition of Our Mutual Friend, originally a monthly serial from 1864-1865 is a single volume by Harper & Brothers.

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop
by Charles Dickens

This 1910 edition by Hodder & Stoughton of London includes 21 tipped-in color illustrations by Frank Reynolds.

 

Interesting Charles Dickens Facts

  • Dickens' father was imprisoned for debt and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory to help support the family.

  • Dickens kept a pet raven named Grip, which he had stuffed when it died in 1841.

  • In 1846 Dickens co-founded Urania Cottage, a home for the redemption of "fallen" women where accepted candidates could learn skills, often domestic, and re-integrate into society.

  • Dickens was keenly interested in the paranormal, and has even been linked to the famous paranormal investigation group “The Ghost Club” of London.

  • Dickens' story The Signal Man is partly derived from personal experience.  In 1865 Dickens was involved in the famed Staplehurst rail crash in which seven train carriages toppled off a bridge that was under repair.  Dickens narrowly avoided catastrophe as his own car was the first to be spared once the train finally stopped, however the incident scarred him mentally.

  • He was an obsessive compulsive, reportedly always re-arranging his hotel furniture and having to sleep with his head pointing north.

  • Dickens gave every one of his ten children nicknames like "Skittles" and "Plorn."

  • Hans Christian Andersen became a good friend of Dickens and in 1857 visited his family, for five weeks.  The visit ended with Dickens writing on the guest room mirror “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks which seemed to the family AGES!”

  • In Boston, thousands of people gathered at the dock to await the ship that carried chapter 71 of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. When the ship arrived, they asked the captain about a beloved character from the novel: “Is Nell dead?” When the affirmative response came back, a collective groan rose up from the massive crowd.

  • He was an advocate of hypnotism and attempted to use it to cure his wife and children of ailments.

  • In his study he had a secret door which was designed like a bookcase filled with fake books rumored to include titles like Noah's Arkitecture and a nine-volume set titled Cat's Lives.

 


And More Unusual Charles Dickens Facts:





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