First Edition of Charles Lever's Jack Hinton, The Guardsman; Inscribed by Him
Jack Hinton: The Guardsman.
Item Number: 60084
William Curry, Jun. and Company: Dublin, 1843.
First edition of the first volume of Lever’s Our Mess series. Octavo, original cloth, 27 full page plates by “Phiz”, other illustrations in text. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the title page, “To Francis Keane from his old and sincere friend, Charles Lever.” In very good condition. Signed copies of Lever’s works are particularly scarce. Bookplate of W.K. Bixby. Housed in a custom half morocco chemise case.
Charles James Lever was an Irish novelist and raconteur, whose novels, according to Anthony Trollope, were just like his conversation. The Irish-born Lever (1806-72) was raised in Dublin by English parents. After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1827, he went to Göttingen to study medicine; his popular novel,Charles O'Malley is based on his own college days in Ireland. Arthur O'Leary (1844) and Con Cregan (1849) reflect some of Lever's own adventures in the Canadian backwoods in 1829. Lever's first few novels appeared in installments in the Dublin University Magazine, for which he later served as editor (1842 to 1845), the journal's annual stipend being £1,250. Qualifying as a physician in 1831, and after working in various Irish county towns, Lever took up practice in the Northern Ireland seaside resort of Portstewart, where he displayed remarkable courage and skill in putting down a cholera epidemic in 1832. After five years of marriage, however, Lever needed a greater income than the little practice could provide, and so, in 1837, he took up the post of physician to the British ambassador in Brussels. Before moving to Belgium, he had started his first novel, Harry Lorrequer, which like so many of the novels to follow was illustrated by the incomparable London artist Hablot Knight Brown, the "Phiz" of Dickens fame. Between 1839 and 1865, Browne etched almost 500 plates for fifteen Lever novels, as well as drawing numerous vignettes on wood-blocks, his work for Harry Lorrequer being among his best for Lever. The difficulties of communicating at a distance are underlined by the fact that not even the diplomatic bag, which Lever as physician to the British Ambassador used to send copy of his publisher, was safe. In January/February 1839 the last installment of Harry Lorrequer went astray, with the result, as Lever wrote to M'Glashan [his Dublin publisher] on 16 February, that 'The scenes for illustration are not so good, of course, in the concluding No (Buchanan-Brown 18). Despite these early set-backs, by the early 1840s Lever had achieved great popularity in England because the early Victorian reading-public was eager to be entertained by his rollicking narratives. Notes S. P. Haddelsey, "he also enjoyed an abundance of laudatory critical notices which compared him favorably with his chief rival, Charles Dickens" ("The Lost Victorian," p. 1). Determining to abandon medicine for journalism, Lever returned to Dublin in 1843 as editor of The Dublin University Magazine, in which he published the first in the series Our Mess, Jack Hinton The Guardsman. In 1845, he went to Brussels, Bonn, and Karlsruhe, where he published The Knight of Gwynne (1847, but begun in 1845, before Lever resigned his editorship), and to the Tyrol, Como, and Florence in 1848; here he wrote the last of his rollicking, relatively unstructured novels, Roland Cashel (1850).