Charles Dickens

Madeline House and Graham Storey (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 1: 1820–1839

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To J. P. HARLEY, [12 DECEMBER 1837]

MS Berg Collection. Date: on mourning paper with widest black border; the only revivals of The Strange Gentleman during CD's period of mourning were on 29 May, 12 and 13 Dec; of these only 13 Dec was Wednesday. Address: J. P. Harley Esqre.

Doughty Street | Tuesday Night

My dear Harley.

I entrust this to Burnet's2 care (who has just called in here) to say that we are anxious to see our old friend the strange Gentleman tomorrow pg 343(Wednesday) Night. As I do not know where to find Mrs. Braham now, on a short notice, may I rely on you to ask her to leave word with the man at the door to let us have either a pit or proscenium box on the same side as that in which we used to sit; but not a box on the same tier, or opposite. Old recollections make us shun our old haunts, or the sight of them.1

  •                                              Ever Faithfully Yours
  • J. P. Harley Esqre.                              Charles Dickens

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Editor’s Note
2 Mis-spelt by CD. Henry Burnett (1811–93), singer, music teacher and CD's brother-in-law. Brought up for a time by a deeply religious grandmother; later lived with his father in Brighton, and when about ten years old sang before the court at the Pavilion, standing on a table in the drawing-room, while George IV (suffering from gout) was wheeled into the room, covered with flannels and bandages (James Griffin, Memories of the Past, 1883, p. 169). Studied music with the organist of the Chapel Royal; entered the Royal Academy of Music, Mar 1832, where he met Fanny Dickens; sang with her in several concerts 1835–6. Decided on a stage career. On 10 Apr 37 took over from Braham the part of Squire Norton in The Village Coquettes—billed as from the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh. Harley wrote to John Dickens of "his talent and excellent bearing" (MS John Rylands Library). Married Fanny on 13 Sep 37; a year later joined Macready's company at Covent Garden. But by 1839 the religious scruples which turned Burnett against his profession were apparently developing; and although Fanny insisted that he meant to remain on the stage (see To Macready, 22 Oct 39), by 1841 he had left it. He never afterwards entered a theatre or opera-house, yet still "loved many friends on the stage and could respect them" (Alexander Thomson, Is the Patronage of the Theatre inconsistent with true Christianity? Manchester, 1877, p. 18). See later vols.
Editor’s Note
1 Mary Hogarth had been at the St James's Theatre with CD and Catherine the night before her death.
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