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E.M. Forster’s David Copperfield

(FORSTER'S COPY.) DICKENS, CHARLES. The Personal History of David Copperfield

London: Bradbury and Evans, 1850

Contemporary half red calf. Plates foxed as usual. Light wear. Very good.

FIRST EDITION in book form with the vignetted engraved title page dated 1850. A superb association copy from the library of novelist E. M. Forster, author of A Room with a View, A Passage to India, Howards End, and others. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel (1927) discusses Dickens.

E.M. Forster’s father died early in his youth and his childhood was dominated his mother, aunts and cousins. Among the most prominent was his paternal great-aunt Marianne Thornton, whose ₤8000 legacy was invaluable to Forster. Her niece Edith was the first owner of this book which was read by the young Forster cousins. The Forster family copy of David Copperfield became a  part of E. M. Forster’s library where it remained until his death. Upon E.M. Forster’s death his library was divided between King’s College, his friends and a sale catalog by W. Heffer and Sons booksellers. The present volume was lot 88 in that catalog.

“Of all Dickens’s novels, David Copperfield is the most enchanting. Few novelists have ever captured more poignantly the feeling of childhood, the brightness and magic and terror of the world as seen through the eyes of a child and colored by his dawning emotions.” The first of the author’s books to be written in the first person, David Copperfield is based on Dickens personal experience and “is thus of cardinal significance to the psychologist and biographer” (Edgar Johnson).

In the preface Dickens declared David Copperfield to be his “favorite child”: “It will easily be believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child. And his name is David Copperfield.”

“Like Robinson Crusoe and Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Waverly Novels, Pickwick and David Copperfield are not books, but stories communicated by word of mouth in those tender years when fact and fiction merge, and thus belong to the memories and myths of life, and not to its esthetic experiences” (Virginia Woolf).

Provenance: the Forster family copy, with E. M. Forster’s bookplate and the early family inscription “Ella Forster from Edith Forster Christmas Day 1859.” Sold ca. 1970 as part of Forster’s library in W. Heffer & Sons, Catalogue 7 “E. M. Forster,” item 88.