AN IMPORTANT PRESENTATIONAL WORKING COPY OF “SUFFOLK NAMES” BY N. I. BOWDITCH FROM CHARLES DICKENS’ PERSONAL LIBRARY, USED IN THE MAY ISSUE OF HOUSEHOLD WORDS, 1857
Suffolk Surnames by N.I. Bowditch, Not Published, Boston: Printed by John Wilson and Son, 1857. From the library of Charles Dickens, with Dickens’ bookplate and an additional label, “From the Library of Charles Dickens, Gadshill Place, June, 1870”. Also includes a loose Dickens Centenary cinderella stamp published by Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1912.
Presentational copy with an inscription from the author, “Charles Dickens – with the respects of Nathaniel Ingersoll Bowditch, Boston, Feb 18, 1857”.
Several pencil notations are found on various pages of the book, highlighting sections to be quoted in an issue of Dickens’ “Household Words”. These deal with a number of amusing family names, such as Butt, Bytheway, Helpusgod, Hum, and Hangit.
“The English have the names of Bigod, Olyfather, etc. Dickens is the most popular writer of the age” (p85). Indeed, Dickens’ use of funny names for his characters is literary legend. The name of “Pocket”, used for his character Herbert Pocket in “Great Expectations” (1860), published three years after his receipt of “Suffolk Surnames”, is one such surname example which appears in the book, as do “Venus” in the character of Mr. Venus, “Wren” in Jenny Wren (“Our Mutual Friend”), “Bud” in Rosa Bud and “Jasper” in John Jasper (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”).
Some pencil corrections and one in ink have been made (ie, noting that the word ‘English’ should read ‘French’, and the word ‘German’ should read ‘Latin’).
These carefully outlined quotations were ultimately used profusely in the May 30, 1857 issue of “Household Words” in an entertaining article titled “Family Names”.