DICKENS, Charles, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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The image is of most of the letter (first page).

DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870). Novelist.
Autograph Letter Signed ('C.D.') to [Thomas] Mitton, 1¼ pages 8vo (second leaf neatly inlaid to a larger sheet), Knutsford Lodge, Great Malvern, 28 March 1851. Sending the torn fragments of a begging letter (no longer included), explaining his presence in Malvern with his wife, and mentioning his father's ill-health.

Catherine Dickens (Kate) had become ill with migraine-like symptoms, and Charles has sought out and rented a house in Malvern so that she could undergo the water cure. He himself had to rush back to London for a rehearsal of Bulwer Lytton's play Not So Bad as We Seem and to see his father, who was about to undergo a dangerous operation (he died on 31 March, three days after the date of this letter).

The present letter is noticed in the Pilgrim Edition of The Letters of Charles Dickens (Oxford, 1988, vol. 6, page 338) from a brief extract in the Nonesuch Edition (1938), but is apparently otherwise unpublished.

Dickens had first met Thomas Mitton in 1828 when as a young man he had gone to work for the solicitor Charles Molloy in Chancery lane, and was considering a possible career at the Bar. Mitton, at that time a clerk in the office, was studying for the law himself, and was to become Dickens's solicitor as well as a lifelong friend. He would be effectively replaced as Dickens's lawyer by Frederic Ouvry in 1856.

The nature of the begging letter is not made clear, nor is the writer identified in this letter although in a letter from Dickens to W.H. Wills on the same day he is identified as Thomas Lewis ('I can't make out whether the man's mad or only an unusual vagabond - I merely mention him, as a caution to you, not to give him anything.')

'If you want a laugh, fit the enclosed pieces together (I tore them by mistake just now) and consider the astonishing impudence of this lying rascal. He has written me half dozen begging letters. ... I think it is a kind of epistle that could be sent to nobody on earth but me.

'I am here with Kate for her health - cold water cure! My father I am afraid is very dangerously ill.'

[No: 26601]

The image is of most of the letter (first page).

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