Publisher: London: George Routledge, 1858.
Edition: First edition in book form, preceded by the parts issue.
Bibliographical References: Sadleir 21a; Wolff 60a; NCBEL III, 912.
Condition: Edges slightly rubbed; fine copy, enclosed in a marbled paper slipcase.
Book ID: 28326
Description8vo, later brown smooth calf by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, brown morocco spine labels, gilt decorations and lettering. a.e.g. Frontis, pictorial title-page and 22 plates by Hablot K. Brown.
CommentsA quasi-autobiographical novel set in Ainsworth’s home town of Manchester, first published in parts by Chapman and Hall, beginning in December 1851, as The Life and Adventures of Mervyn Clitheroe. Ainsworth, discouraged by its poor reception and sales, gave up on the story; and Chapman and Hall ceased the publication with part four in March 1852, leaving the novel incomplete. After five years, Ainsworth was encouraged to take it up again. Routledge agreed to continue as the publisher and eight more parts were published under its imprint between December 1857 and June 1858, and despite its earlier poor reception, Mervyn Clitheroe was quite popular the second time around. Due to the unusual hiatus in the publication and two imprints, Mervyn Clitheroe is one of the great rarities among parts issues of Victorian novels. This copy has an interesting a.l.s. by Ainsworth tipped in, to another unidentified author, dated December 30, 1858, in which he writes about the novel he is trying to finally complete: "The public probably expected something more exciting from me, and may therefore be disappointed at first, but in the end I think they will like the story." Ainsworth also welcomes his correspondent's contributions to his magazine, but warns that there will not by any remuneration for these are "not flourishing times for periodical literature." Wolff wrote that Mervyn Clitheroe "is probably the most likely of all Ainsworth’s novels to be rediscovered by critics.”.