A Wonderful Ghost Story, being Mr. H's Own Narrative reprinted from "All The Year Round", with Letters hitherto unpublished of Charles Dickens to the author respecting it.
London: Griffith & Farrar, 1882. First edition. Softcover. Small octavo. (ii) 88pp. (+ 2pp. adverts.) Original pictorial wrappers. Adverts on inside covers, front and rear. A supposedly true ghost story with a truly mysterious twist. In September 1861 Charles Dickens published a supposedly true tale of a ghostly encounter, entitled "The Portrait Painter's Story," in his magazine "All the Year Round." Shortly after its publication, Dickens was contacted by the artist Thomas Frank Heaphy (1813-1873) who claimed that not only was he the chief protagonist of the story, but that Dickens had plagiarized his own autobiographical narrative. Dickens replied promptly, assuring Heaphy that he had not knowingly copied his work, but that he had heard the story told at a gathering at a friend's house and assumed that it was just an anonymous piece of lore in public circulation. He invited Heaphy to submit the manuscript of his account, which he did, and which Dickens found to be far superior to that which he had published. He therefore arranged for it to be published in the October 5 issue of "All the Year Round." Nine years after Heaphy's death in 1873 his widow collected the then unpublished letters from Dickens to her husband, and published them, along with his original story, under the title "A Wonderful Ghost Story." This was the first separate publication of the work. This copy has been well-preserved in a contemporary (19th century) custom-made double-slipcase; the book first fits into a thin card slipcase covered in marbled paper, which in turn fits into a slipcase designed as a half-leather faux-book, with beautiful gilt-tooled leather spine with pseudo-raised bands and leather corners over marbled paper boards. Curiously the lettering on the spine reads "Dickens's Works" and "A Wonderful Story" - suggesting that it was likely in the collection of a 19th century Dickens collector. The spine of the volume is a little creased and with a few short splits, wrappers slightly rubbed, minor chipping to corner of wrappers, page-edges lightly foxed & with a touch of foxing to a few pages. Still a solid, complete & internally-clean VG + copy of a book rarely seen in its original wrappers. Slipcases a little rubbed at extremities but otherwise VG+. Item #52493