The Pride of Mankind
With contributions attributed to Charles Dickens. Edited with an introduction by John M.L.Drew. Illustrated with engravings by Bob Guy. Quarter leather, boxed, limited to 240 copies. Consists of a series of 10 advertisement poems for Robert Warren’s boot blacking, printed between March 13 and May 14 1832 in a radical evening newspaper: The True Sun. Charles Dickens had worked as a child for Robert Warren’s brother and rival Jonathan at his factory on the Strand, and was a young reporter on ‘The True Sun’, also on the Strand, when these advertisements appeared. There is strong evidence, clearly presented in Dr Drew’s introduction, that Dickens had a hand in these verses, and one, ‘The Turtle Dove’, is his first identifiable publication. The poem contains the slogan for Warren’s product, “the pride of mankind”, which has been taken as a title for the sequence.It was customary for authors, especially impecunious and aspiring ones like the young Dickens, to earn a little extra cash from “puff verses” of this kind. Typically they display witty versification and a tone of ironic hyperbole. The latent humour is brought out in the engravings by Bob Guy – each poem having a main illustration and a reflective tailpiece in the manner of Bewick.