Great Expectations was first published as a weekly serial in All the Year Round, December 1860 - August 1861. Its first appearance in volume form was as three-volume novel, without illustrations, in July 1861. A one-volume edition, the next year, preceded its inclusion in the collected editions of Dickens's lifetime. The three-volume 1861 edition is the basis of the present text: variant readings, including those in manuscript and extant proofs,
are recorded in the textual apparatus, providing an unusually rich source of information on Dickens's methods of composition. The Introduction traces this process of composition and draws attention
to the two unperformed dramatic adaptations: the reading version and the 1861 play version, made as a safeguard of copyright. Appendices include the original ending, the author's notes, and two textual examinations, one of the five so-called `editions' of 1861, the other a comparison of the one-volume 1862 edition with the 1864 Library edition.
`this definitive dition indicates all variations in text between the 1861 first book publication, the original manuscript, proofs and other editions published in the author's lifetime up to and including the Charles Dickens Edition of 1868. Thanks to the Clarendon editors, this expensive first edition can now be bought and sold with confidence.'
Brian Lake, Antiquarian Book Monthly, January 1994