Mayhew, Henry, & Cruikshank, George

1851 : or, the adventures of Mr. and Mrs.Sandboys and family, who came up to London to enjoy themselves and to see the Great Exhibition.

London, David Bogue (1851).

Reference: 14141
Price: £240 [convert currency]

Full Description

8vo. Pictorial title leaf, (2) + (240) pp (numbered 1-62, 65-242, skipping 63-4 as always), (10) etched plates (9 double-page or folding). Contemporary quarter blue calf, cloth sides, rubbed at outer corners, all edges gilt. Nineteenth century ink ownership inscription of Jane Preston. A copy bound up from the original parts, with the original part covers for Part I and Part VIII loosely inserted at front and back of volume. A printed pictorial advertisement leaf, designed by the author and illustrator Watts Phillips for another publication by David Bogue, tipped in after p.62. Plates a little spotted, as usual with this title, but a good, clean copy otherwise.

First edition, first printing, of a comic novel by Henry Mayhew, author of London Labour and the London Poor, taking as its theme the succession of mishaps which overtook the Sandboys family on a visit to London to see the Great Exhibition of 1851. The central figure in Mayhew’s narrative, Christopher Sandboys, a gentleman farmer from the Lake District, never gets to visit the exhibition at all (in a literary device not dissimilar to that employed by Hilary Mantell in her recent novel Wolf Hall, where no one gets anywhere near Wolf Hall itself), but Mayhew vividly conveys the excitement generated by the exhibition both among Londoners and visitors from elsewhere in England and from overseas, and his portrayal of day-to-day life in London in the summer of 1851 as it affected individuals in the Sandboys’ family’s social class, although milked for comic effect, remains well worth reading today. In that general context, it may be permissible to note that if Christopher Sandboys was educated at St.Bees School (as stated by Mayhew on p.11), he would have been a near contemporary there of the present cataloguer’s paternal great-grandfather. The accompanying illustrations by George Cruikshank, focused on the Great Exhibition itself, usefully complement Marryat’s narrative. The present copy, evidently bound up from the original parts issued between February and October 1851, contains, loosely inserted, the original part covers for Parts I and VIII, and it is worth noting that it must have been George Cruikshank who designed the image that appears both on the volume’s pictorial title leaf and on the front wrapper of the part covers.