Beyond the Brownings–Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Dickens ABLCourtesy of The Armstrong Browning Library

Written by Melinda Creech, Graduate Assistant, Armstrong Browning Library

Charles Dickens, who enjoyed unprecedented fame during his lifetime, is considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. He confronted social issues through such memorable works as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and A Christmas Carol.

The Armstrong Browning Library owns twelve letters written by Charles Dickens and over 240 books, some of which are rare editions. Although Dickens corresponded with the Brownings, the ABL does not own any of their letters. However, there are three Dickens books inscribed by Robert Browning in the collection, as well as Dickens’ copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s verse-novel Aurora Leigh.

Dickens,-10-Jan-1848-1webDickens,-10-Jan-1848-2web Letter from Charles Dickens to William Gregory. 10 January 1848.

In this previously unpublished letter, Dickens expresses his pleasure in meeting Mr. Gregory and promises to renew their acquaintance again soon. William Gregory was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and an enthusiast for phrenology and mesmerism. Dickens also confesses to writer’s block at the end of the letter.

I am perfectly stupified with a bad cold, and a blank quire of paper intended for the manuscript of Dombey No 17. is staring very hard in my miffed face.

Dickens-to-Locker-1webDickens-to-Locker-2webDickens-to-Locker-3webLetter from Charles Dickens to Frederick Locker. 13 June 1869.

In this letter Dickens explains that he has been traveling with some American friends and asks Locker to give his regards to Tennyson.

I have been for the last ten days perpetually journeying and sightseeing with some friends from America…. If this should reach you while Tennyson is [by] you, pray give him my love and tell him I am heartily sorry to have missed your kindly offered opportunity of meeting him….

Dickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carolcover-webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-2webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-3webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-4webDickens-Manuscripts-of-Christmas-Carol-5webCharles Dickens. The Christmas Carol: A Facsimile Reproduction of the Author’s Original Ms. London: Elliot Stock, 1890.

This large volume contains facsimiles of the original manuscripts of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. A first edition, it is one of only fifty copies and the first facsimile done of this work.

Dickens-Little-Dorrit-1webDickens-Little-Dorrit-2webDickens-Little-Dorrit-3webDickens-Little-Dorrit-4webCharles Dickens. Little Dorrit. London: Chapman and Hall, 1863.

This volume was in the Brownings’ library and bears the inscription: “To dearest Pen on his birthday, March 9 ‘64. RB. 19 Warwick Crescent.”

Dickens-A-Christmas-Carol-1webDickens-A-Christmas-Carol-2webDickens-A-Christmas-Carol-3webDickens-A-Christmas-Carol-4Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol in Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Edition sanctioned by the author. Leipzig: Bernh. Tauchnitz Jun, 1843.

This volume is an extremely rare first Continental edition.  The Armstrong Browning Library also owns the first  British edition of this classic, published in London in 1843 by Chapman and Hall, as well as the four additional “Christmas books” published by Dickens in subsequent years.

One thought on “Beyond the Brownings–Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

  1. hi, im looking for some advice really please. i bought a few books from my local charity shop, some of them look very old, when i have tried to research the edition i have, im finding it very difficult as there are no dates of publising in the book. it has an inscription on the inside, and from this i can see it was given as a gift in 1912. so i would just like to know if anybody could help me out please, i can send pics of the book if that may help. thankyou very much for your time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.