Just the other day, Katherine and I got into a discussion about writing and procrastination and to whom we would dedicate our works of dubious art. Naturally, this led us back to a) Benedict Cumberbatch and b) musing upon specific dedications in our favorite Victorian novels. We’ve included many transcribed dedications below from our own book collection, added a few that should have been, and, of course, came up with a few of our own.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
To my dear friend, Hommy-Beg
(According to this comment here, “The dedication is to Stoker’s friend Thomas Henry Hall Caine, the popular novelist. Of Manx parentage, and author of the Manxman, Caine was known to intimates by the Manx diminutive ‘Hommy-Beg,’ meaning ‘little Tommy.’ “)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
To William Godwin, author of Political Justice, Caleb Williams, etc, these volumes are repectfully inscribed by the Author.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
My Dear Robinson: It was your account of a west country legend which first suggested the idea of this little tale to my mind. For this, and for the help which you gave me in its evolution, all thanks. Yours most truly, A. Conan Doyle
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (a MUST read; we will review and discuss this in a future post)
To Bryan Waller Procter; From one of his younger brethren in Literature, who sincerely values his friendship, and who gratefully remembers many happy hours spent in his house.
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Dedicated to the Right Hon. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart. M.P., D.C.L., &c., &c., in grateful acknowledgement of literary advice most generously given to the Author.
(This one is particularly excellent, in my personal opinion. Bulwer-Lytton is known for many amazing things, including being the author of The Last Days of Pompeii, and was responsible for the phrases “the pen is mightier than the sword” and the infamous opening lines “it was a dark and stormy night”. There is a magnificent Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest held in his name every year, described as “a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels”. It is truly one of the best things around; pouring through entries of years past is a magnificent time-suck. NB: the inscription I have does not include a hyphenated last name, though every other source seems to indicate that his name, properly spelled, is hyphenated.)
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
To Julia Neilson and Fred Terry, whose genuis created the roles of Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney on the stage, this book is affectionately dedicated.
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Dickens dedicated his volume edition of the Pickwick Papers to Mr. Serjeant Talfourd, M. P.
(Here’s the sweetest part: [Excerpted] “Accept the dedication of this book, my dear Sir, as a mark of my warmest regard and esteem – as a memorial of the most gratifying friendship I have ever contracted, and of some of the pleasantest hours I have ever spent – as a token of my fervent admiration of every fine quality of your head and heart – as an assurance of the truth and sincerity with which I shall ever be, My dear Sir, Most faithfully and sincerely yours, Charles Dickens”
From VictorianWeb: “A mark of the strength of their early friendship was Dickens’s dedicating the September 1837 volume edition of The Pickwick Papers. Some seventeen years older than Dickens, Talfourd was a friend of the great literary lights of the Romantic era: actor-manager William Macready, poets Coleridge and Wordsworth, and the essayist Lamb. By the autumn of 1836 Talfourd was moving in a younger circle of artists and writers, including the painters Maclise and Stanfield, critics Jerdan and Forster, Dickens, and that Romantic hold-over, the editor Leigh Hunt.”)
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
To Marie-Antoine-Jules Senard Member of the Paris Bar, Ex-President of the National Assembly, and Former Minister of the Interior
Dear and Illustrious Friend, Permit me to inscribe your name at the head of this book, and above its dedication; for it is to you, before all, that I owe its publication. Reading over your magnificent defence, my work has acquired for myself, as it were, an unexpected authority.
Accept, then, here, the homage of my gratitude, which, how great soever it is, will never attain the height of your eloquence and your devotion.
Gustave Flaubert, Paris, 12 April 1857
Dedications that Should Have Been:
Oscar Wilde: To Bosie: for being an obnoxious little snot who, though handsome, didn’t deserve my awesomeness, didn’t treat me well, and ultimately wasn’t worth my time (or the time I wasted away in prison). Tell your persecuting and prosecuting father the Marquess to shove off. No Love, Me.
Edgar Allan Poe: To Booze and Darkness: ILU. You complete me. In gratitude forever, E.A. Poe.
George Bernard Shaw: To Warner Bros Films: Really? Casting Audrey Hepburn over Julie Andrews? Wouldn’t have had to dub her singing voice if you’d chosen wisely. I’m not saying; I’m just saying. G.B.S.
Wuthering Heights: To the (not-so-honorable) Stephanie Meyer, and to the future Mr. and Mrs. Cullen: No. Just don’t. Regards, Ellis Bell
Through the Looking Glass: To the reader: It’s drugs. I’m talking about drugs.
The Vicky A’s Do Some Dedicating:
Academic Paper: “To Bendywinks Crumplethong: without whose icy gaze and deadly cheekbones this work might have gotten published quicker and with less sexy procrastinating.”
Cookbook: “For (Eggs) Benedict Batchofcookies, the ultimate stud-muffin.”
Poetry: For Butterscotch Crumplebath, whose very name is poetry in motion.
Science Textbook: To Bunsenburner Cuttlefish: you blinded me with science.
And last, but certainly not least:
Every post on this blog: Dear Husband, Sorry I ignored you last night while writing this. Love, Your Wife