New Exhibit!

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David Copperfield: Dickens’ Favorite Child is now open on the 3rd floor of the Montante Family Library through March 31, 2013.  The D’Youville College Archives holds a rare, first edition David Copperfield, complete in its original paper wrappers.  As Dickens called Copperfield his favorite of all his works, the exhibit explores the experiences that influenced its writing and publication.

“An Energy of the Fieriest Description”

David Copperfield was first published as a serial in 19 monthly parts from May 1849 to November 1850.  This was Dickens’ eighth novel and marked a significant change from his earlier works.  First, Copperfield is written in the first person.  Second, experiences from his life feature prominently.  His father’s term in debtors’ prison (and even his speech patterns) take the form of Mr. Micawber.  Dickens’ own time working at a blacking factory as a child is reflected in David’s brutal experience at Murdstone and Grinby’s warehouse.  In July 1849, Dickens wrote to his friend John Forster, “I really think I have done it ingeniously, and with a very complicated interweaving of truth and fiction.”

Dickens began writing Copperfield in February 1849, only three months before the first installment was published.  For the duration of this work, he stuck to a fairly rigid writing schedule, and wrote each number in the first 2 weeks of the month with “an energy of the fieriest description.”  In the summer of 1849 while on holiday with his family, he expressed his wish to be left alone from waking until 2pm, referring to this time as his “hard Copperfieldian mornings.”

Copperfield was well-received and has become Dickens best known work.  Biographer and historian Claire Tomalin describes the sense of realism and the depiction of childhood Dickens captured: “…the voice of childhood was truly rendered by Dickens out of his own experience – and out of his imagination….His descriptions are so finely accurate that he seems to be watching something taking place before his eyes as he writes….”

In the Preface of the 1850 edition, Dickens reflected on Copperfield:

My interest in it, is so recent and strong; and my mind is so divided between pleasure and regret—pleasure in the achievement of a long design, regret in the separation from many companions….

Instead of looking back, therefore, I will look forward. I cannot close this Volume more agreeably to myself, than with a hopeful glance towards the time when I shall again put forth my two green leaves once a month, and with a faithful remembrance of the genial sun and showers that have fallen on these leaves of David Copperfield, and made me happy.

The exhibit is on display until March 31, 2013 during regular library hours.  Directions to the Montante Family Library can be found here.


 

 

Exhibit Sneak Peek

The College Archives has a new exhibit space located on the 3rd floor of the Montante Family Library.  The first exhibit, David Copperfield: Dickens’ Favorite Child will open in a few weeks.  Below are a few sneak peek images of the space renovation and items featured in the exhibit.

Dickens at the time of Copperfield publication, 1850.

Dickens at the time of Copperfield publication, 1850.

Uriah Heep, from Frederick Barnard's Character Sketches from Dickens.

Uriah Heep, from Frederick Barnard's Character Sketches from Dickens.

Exhibit area, 3rd floor of Montante Family Library

Exhibit area, 3rd floor of Montante Family Library

Map and engraving of Covent Garden and Drury Lane theater district, London.  From London Illustrata.

Map and engraving of Covent Garden and Drury Lane theater district, London. From London Illustrata.

David Copperfield 1st edition, in original wrappers

David Copperfield 1st edition, in original wrappers

Dr. Henry Lappin, D'Youville College professor.  Lappin recommended the library purchase David Copperfield in 1927.

Dr. Henry Lappin, D'Youville College professor. Lappin recommended the library purchase David Copperfield in 1927.

Dickens at the time of Copperfield publication, 1850.Uriah Heep, from Frederick Barnard's Character Sketches from Dickens.Exhibit area, 3rd floor of Montante Family LibraryMap and engraving of Covent Garden and Drury Lane theater district, London.  From London Illustrata.David Copperfield 1st edition, in original wrappersDr. Henry Lappin, D'Youville College professor.  Lappin recommended the library purchase David Copperfield in 1927.


 

Start the Year with Dickens

Although the D’Youville College Archives mainly consist of the institutional records of the college, we also hold scores of rare and special books in the collection.  One is a 1909 copy of Through the Year with Dickens.  The book contains quotations from Dickens works, one for each day of the year, illustrated with six color plates of scenes from his works.  The passage for January 1 (taken from Little Dorrit) follows:

And thus ever by day and night, under the sun and under the stars, climbing the dusty hills and toiling along the weary plains, journeying by land and journeying by sea, coming and going so strangely, to meet and to act and react on one another, move all we restless travellers through the pilgrimage of life.

Through the Year… was compiled by Dickens’ eldest daughter, Mary.  Mary was born in 1838 and was the closest to Dickens of his ten children, even siding with him in his sensational 1858 separation from his wife, Catherine.  After that time, Mary lived with her father, and did not see her mother again until after his death in 1870.  This was not Mary’s sole published work: she co-edited a collection of Charles Dickens’ letters with her aunt Georgina Hogarth (1880) and wrote My Father as I Recall Him (1886).