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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Text from G. H. Putnam, George Palmer Putnam, 1912, p. 402. Address: salutation omitted in printed source; presumably to the firm (as letter of 13 Dec 38), not to Putnam personally.

48 Doughty Street, | Friday, Aug. 31, 1838.

I beg to thank you for the books you have been so obliging as to forward me. I have only had time to glance at them, but have been already much pleased, and hope to be more so. I assure you that nothing would yield me greater pleasure than to be the humble means of introducing any American writer to this part of the world. I would only entreat you to remember that our means do not always keep pace with our inclination, and that the claims upon the very limited space of such a magazine as the Miscellany are necessarily more than it is possible to answer with any speed or regularity. I should be very happy to write something for thepg 431Editor’s Note Knickerbocker1 and American Monthly;2 but I do assure you I have scarcely time to complete my existing engagements. So I think I must defer this pleasure until I visit America, which I hope to do before very long; and then I shall be more independent and free, which will be more in keeping.3

  • I am your obedient servant,
  •            Charles Dickens

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Editor’s Note
2 John Wiley (b. 1808) and George Palmer Putnam (1814–74), New York publishers and booksellers, founded 1838. They published Hazlitt and Lamb; and of CD's works, Pictures from Italy, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, The Chimes and Dombey and Son. A London branch of the firm, at 67 Paternoster Row, was announced in the Knickerbocker Magazine in 1838. Putnam was Secretary of the first International Copyright Committee in America 1837, and active on its behalf until his death.
Editor’s Note
431 n. 1 line 12 for Maclise read Laurence
Editor’s Note
1 The Knickerbocker, or, New York Monthly Magazine, 1833–65, published by Wiley & Putnam 1838–40. Its editor from 1834, Lewis Gaylord Clark, made it one of the leading American literary journals. Contributors included Fenimore Cooper, Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Washington Irving (on its staff 1839–41). In Oct 38 the publishers had in their Broadway office window a large portrait of CD (presumably an engraving of the Maclise portrait)–said to be the only one in America (Knickerbocker, Oct 38, xii, 377). The magazine carried enthusiastic notices of CD's novels from Pickwick onwards, and in Aug 39 printed a short sketch of his appearance and "social habetude" (xiv, 196).
Editor’s Note
2 The American Monthly Magazine, 1833–8, published by George Dearborn, New York, and edited by Park Benjamin who had probably deputed Putnam, later his London agent, to ask CD for a contribution.
Editor’s Note
3 This seems to be the earliest mention of a visit to America. Cf. the New-York Mirror, 13 Oct 38: "We have seen a letter from Charles Dickens … in which he expresses his intention of making an early visit to New York in the Great Western. We know of no contemporary writer toward whom a more generous welcome would be extended" (quoted by C. W. Houtchens and L. H. Houtchens, "Early American Journals and CD", Modern Language Quarterly, VI [1945], 213).
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