SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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DICKENS, Charles.
Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi.

Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi is the 1838 autobiography of the pioneering nineteenth-century clown Joseph Grimaldi. It was edited by Charles Dickens who as a seven-year-old had first seen Grimaldi perform. Charles Dickens, aged 25 was asked to edit the memoirs of the great comic Joseph Grimaldi, who had just died, aged 58, wrecked by the hard physical labour of pantomime and a sequence of emotional catastrophes like a script for a melodrama.

London: Richard Bentley, 1838.
Cohn 237
London: Richard Bentley, 1838.

Two Volumes. Edited by "Boz." xix, [1], 288; ix, [1], 263, [1] pp. With 12 plates by Cruikshank plus a frontispiece portrait by Greatbatch after Raven. EXTRA ILLUSTRATED with 60 additional plates, 32 of which are hand-coloured, finely engraved portraits, curious prints, some folding, and more. 8vo. (193 x 126 mm) beautifully bound by Bayntun of Bath in handsome full crushed red levant morocco, richly gilt spine and upper boards with artistically tooled images of Grimaldi inlaid with several colours, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt decorative borders, gilt panel backs. FIRST EDITION with the first state of the final plate in volume II (without the "grotesque" border, which was added later). Joseph Grimaldi (1779-1837), the "Michelangelo of Buffoonery," was one of the greatest and best-loved figures in the history of English Pantomime, and was the greatest clown of his day, performing at such prominent theatres as Drury Lane, Sadler's Wells and Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. They said that Grimaldi (who seldom spoke onstage) could achieve with one look more than any of his rivals could achieve with the most elaborate transformations: every limb seemed to speak a rich language. When he finally vocalized, it was usually no more than one word or a monosyllable, as if some overwhelming sensation had forced the word from his mouth. The present copy of Grimaldi's Memoirs is distinguished by its unique inlaid binding, as well as the 60 extra portraits and plates, of which 32 are hand-coloured. Dickens did no original writing on Grimaldi, except for an introductory and possibly a concluding chapter; Dickens was paid a flat fee of £100 for his work as the editor. In near perfect condition. Coloured plates in order: Volume 1. 1. Frontispiece. Joseph Grimaldi. 2. Charles Dibdin Esq. 3. Surry Theatre, Blackfriars Road. 4. London from Greenwich Park. 5. [not captioned] sepia male portrait. 6. Sadlers Wells. Performances of Paulo and the Infant Prodigy - 1816 (folding plate.) 7. Gravesend, Kent. 8. The Clown, opposite Sadlers Wells. 9. R.B. Sheridan, Esq, M.P. 10. Mr. Kemble. 11. View from Maidstone Bridge. 12. M.G. Lewis (author of The Monk.) 13. Thomas Dibdin Esq. 14. The Favourite Scene from Valentine and Orson as performed at Sadlers Wells Theatre. Orson: Mr. J Grimaldi, Valentine: Mr. P Hartland, Child: Miss Gladhill. 15. Mr. Grimaldi as Clown in the Popular new Pantomime of 'Mother Goose.' 16. Mr. Simmons as Mother Goose, in the new Popular Pantomime. Volume 2. 17. Frontispiece. Grimaldi's kindness to the Giants. 18. Mr. Grimaldi as Clown. 19. John Fawcett Esq. 20. Mrs. Siddons, in the character of the Tragic Muse. 21. Mr. Liston as Adam Brock. 22. J. Grimaldi as Clown at Sadlers Wells Theatre. 23. Byron. 24. "Hoo haw, There he goes!!" Grim Joey dashing Little Boney into the jaws of a Russian Bear. 25. Sadlers Wells Theatre, 1813 (folding plate.) 26. Miss Brunton. 27. Mr. Grimaldi as Clown, illuminating the entrance to Old Gutter Lane. 28. R.W. Elliston Esq. 29. Aquatic Theatre at Sadlers Wells, 1813. 30. Mrs. C. Kemble, as Julio. 31. Sadlers Wells Race Course, 1826 (folding plate.) 32. Sadlers Wells, 1830 (folding plate.)