First edition in book form. Late 20th century full burgundy morocco with decorative morocco onlay, titles in gilt to the spine. All edges with contemporary marbling. Modern marbled endpapers. Frontispiece, title page vignette and 38 full-page illustrations by H.K. Browne. A very good copy indeed, the binding square and firm. The contents with the inevitable darkening of the plate edges with some offsetting to the opposite pages are otherwise clean throughout. The original blank front endpaper has the ownership inscription of the famous English cricketer Heathfield H. Stephenson, dated 1894. A curious and appealing cricketing association copy.
With all first issue points within the text present. (Smith, part I: 6b) Charles Dickens' works are among the most celebrated in the English literary canon but cricket fans might argue that his greatest achievement was inadvertently triggering the long international cricket rivalry of England and Australia. The first ever England vs Australia tour was originally conceived as a Victorian PR stunt and sponsorship opportunity by two entrepreneurial Melbourne-based businessmen, the wine merchants Felix William Spiers and Christopher Pond. Having failed to persuade Charles Dickens to conduct a lecture tour of Australia, the two Englishmen turned their attention to cricket. The sport's popularity was growing in Australia, so Spiers and Pond invited a team of leading English cricketers to tour the country. Twelve players signed up for the tour. Named "The Eleven of All England" or "H. H. Stephenson's XI" after the English Captain Heathfield Harman Stephenson, they each received £150, first class passage aboard SS Great Britain (costing 70 guineas), plus all expenses. The inaugural English tour of Australia was a great success, promoting the development of Australian cricket and inspiring later English teams to visit Australia.
Stock code: 20251