DICKENS, Charles. The Personal History of David Copperfield. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1850. 8. (214 x 134 mm). Engraved frontispiece, title and 38 plates after Hablot K. Browne ['Phiz']. (Plates heavily browned, some soiling and a few short tears, occasional spotting.) Contemporary dark green roan, sides panelled in blind, spine titled in gilt, raised bands ruled in gilt, gilt edges, yellow coated endpapers (gilding on spine mostly worn off, extremities rubbed, front hinge repaired). Provenance: Charles Dickens (presentation inscription, and letter, to:) -- William Brookes and Sons. FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, DICKENS'S OWN COPY OF HIS 'FAVOURITE CHILD', INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR: 'To "Brookes of Sheffield" from Charles Dickens. May, 1851.' With, laid-in, a 5-line autograph letter from Dickens presenting the book to Messrs Brookes, dated London 15 May 1851 ('I beg to send you the book which I find has been delayed by a mistake ....'). One of the characters in the novel refers to one 'Brooks of Sheffield', which led to correspondence between Dickens and the tool manufacturer, and to Dickens presenting Brookes with a copy of Copperfield from his own shelves. In an earlier letter to Brookes dated 25 April 1851, now at Yale, Dickens writes that 'the introduction of your name in the story is one of those remarkable coincidences that defy all calculations [...] It came to my head as I wrote, just as any other name and address might have done if I had been diverting the attention of a real child'; Dickens acknowledges receipt of a gift from Brookes, probably a case of cutlery, and writes: 'as I remember an old superstition concerning the severance of friendship with knives [...] I shall beg you to do me the favour of accepting my own copy of Copperfield which as coming from the shelves in my study, will perhaps have an interest for you that another copy might not possess. I will send it tomorrow' (The Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. VI, p.362). But there was a delay of about three weeks, causing the above apology. The most autobiographical of all of Dickens's novels, David Copperfield had enormous personal importance to its author. Many of the most painful episodes of his life were only thinly veiled in the book, leading Dickens to speak of the difficulty of 'dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world.' In his preface to the 1869 edition, Dickens writes: 'Of all my books, I like this the best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield'. PRESENTATION COPIES ARE VERY RARE: ABPC records only 2 at auction in over 35 years: the Self copy (dated 31 May 1854; sold, Christie's New York, 4 December 2009, lot 80, $130,000), and the Gotschalk copy (dated 15 July 1851; sold, Sotheby's London, 19 December 2000, lot 84, £65,000). Eckel, p.77; Sadleir 686; Smith I:9.