A new addition to our Dickens collection, this tale of an orphan’s ascendance from pickpocket to squire reproduces the 1937 Nonesuch text and illustrations and is introduced by Peter Ackroyd.
Illustrated by Marcus Stone
Introduced by D. J. Taylor
This exquisite edition reproduces the famous Nonesuch text and features Marcus Stone’s original illustrations.
On the misty Kent marshes an escaped convict wrestles with his irons; in a ruined mansion a withered spinster in a yellowed wedding dress waits in vain for her bridegroom. In the hands of Abel Magwitch and the vengeful Miss Havisham lies the destiny of ’Pip’ – a young orphan who dreams of becoming a gentleman.
Great Expectations is one of Dickens’s best-loved novels, written in 1860–1, at the peak of his powers. This edition, the first in our new Dickens series, includes Marcus Stone’s atmospheric illustrations, commissioned for the first book edition on Dickens’s recommendation. The Nonesuch Press text, used here, is taken from the 1867 Chapman and Hall edition, the last to be corrected by the author.
Quarter-bound in cloth with printed cloth sides
Set in Arno
Frontispiece and 7 black & white illustrations
9½˝ x 6¾˝
Powerful tale of destiny, ambition and class identity
Magwitch, Miss Havisham and Pip are among Dickens’s most enduring creations, and Great Expectations is often considered to contain his most fully developed female characters. His 13th novel is a subversive take on the bildungsroman: its hero embarks on a path towards success and self-improvement, but discovers that his progress is built on false assumptions, his cherished ideals full of illusions.
Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape
Pip is haunted by his lowly beginnings, and ashamed of Joe, his kind but poor adoptive father. When the wealthy Miss Havisham makes him a playmate for her protégé, the beautiful but cruel Estella, he enters a strange and emotionally perilous world. His love for Estella fuels his longing for gentility, but uniting the pair is far from Miss Havisham’s embittered designs. Just as Pip believes he is consigned to the life of a commoner, a windfall from a secret benefactor transforms his fate. London-bound, he imagines his dreams fulfilled and his unrequited love returned … but all is not what it seems, and Pip’s transition from poverty to wealth will threaten the very sense of integrity that he strives for.
‘A work of great psychological accuracy and observation’
- Peter Ackroyd
Great Expectations is a fascinating exploration of how riches and poverty alike can corrupt: Pip’s happiness does not increase with social elevation, while Magwitch’s inner nobility has been compromised by his deprived childhood. It also contains Dickens’s most masterly evocations of landscape and townscape, and is imbued with an unsentimental melancholy that is perhaps unique in all his opus. No library is complete without this powerful tale of destiny, ambition and class identity, and this elegant edition is the perfect tribute to Dickens’s talents.
About Charles Dickens
About Marcus Stone
Marcus Stone was born in 1840. He began to exhibit his work at the Royal Academy before he was 18, having been trained by his father, Frank Stone, a self-taught English painter and lifelong friend of Dickens. The elder Stone died in 1859, at which time Dickens – taking on a fatherly role to his children – recommended a 19-year old Marcus to his publishers. They commissioned him to create frontispieces for Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities and illustrations for Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend. Later turning away from book illustration, Marcus became an accomplished painter, and was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1877 and an Academician in 1887. He died in 1921.
About D. J. Taylor
D. J. Taylor is a British critic, novelist and biographer. A graduate of St John’s College, Oxford, he published his first novel, Great Eastern Land, in 1986. He received the 2003 Whitbread Biography Award for his biography of George Orwell, and his novel Derby Day was longlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, the Independent and New Statesman, among others.
The novels of Charles Dickens
Dickens was a powerhouse of creativity. For ordinary mortals just one of his many jobs would have been sufficient (let alone a family of ten children). Yet despite his tours and editorial responsibilities, he wrote fifteen novels, three works of non-fiction and numerous shorter works. No wonder he should be called ‘the great inimitable’. From his pen flowed a seemingly inexhaustible series of characters who have enchanted generations of readers, whether we laugh at his comic creations or suffer alongside his heroes and heroines.
When the first serialisations of Bleak House and Oliver Twist appeared, readers thronged docksides and railway stations waiting for them to be unloaded. Today, the popularity of Dickens for TV series suggests his appeal is as strong as ever. His exceptional eye for character and voice keeps his books fresh, even though the milieu of workhouse and industry has changed. Mr Pickwick remains as funny as when he first stood to deliver his lecture on the Theory of Tittlebats, and young Pip trembling on the Kent marshes as Magwitch looms out of the mist, just as compelling an image.