Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson, Madeline House, and Graham Storey (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 3: 1842–1843

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To SIR WILLIAM ALLAN,3 13 NOVEMBER 18434

Text from Sir Theodore Martin, Helena Faucit (Lady Martin), 1900, p. 117.

Devonshire Terrace, | York Gate, Regent's Park,

13th November 1843.

My Dear Allan,

I am very anxious to bespeak your kind offices in behalf of Miss Helen Faucit:5 a young lady who is a much esteemed friend of ours, and whose great pg 598abilities I hold in high regard. She is coming to Edinburgh to fulfil an engagement with Murray. If you and Miss Allan1 can come to know her in private, I will answer for your having real pleasure in her society, and for your not taxing me with overrating her excellent qualities. I am "say2 fond" of her, which I think—and as an Edinburgh citizen I ought to know3—is good Lowlan' Scotch.

Kate unites in this, and in kind loves to Miss Allan and yourself.

  • Always, my dear Allan, faithfully your friend,
  •                                         Charles Dickens

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Notes

Editor’s Note
3 Sir William Allan (1782–1850; DNB), historical painter: see Vol. ii, p. 65n.
Editor’s Note
4 F. G. Kitton, CD by Pen and Pencil, ii, 159, and N, ii, 128, read "1848".
Editor’s Note
5 Helen (later Helena) Saville Faucit (1817–98; DNB), actress, and later (as Lady Martin) author of On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters, 1885, was now rapidly advancing in her distinguished career. She was an unusually sensitive and intelligent actress as well as beautiful and accomplished. Youngest daughter of Saville Faucit and Harriet (née Diddear), both on the stage, but separated in her early childhood; as a girl, met Edmund Kean, and was encouraged by him to play Juliet at the Richmond Theatre. For many years was taught and advised by Percival Farren, brother of William, the actor (with whom her mother was living), and made her London début with Kemble as Julia in Knowles's Hunchback, 1836. Macready first met her at Kean's funeral in 1833; she was his leading lady at Covent Garden 1836–8, and at the Haymarket 1839, 1841, her greatest successes being in Shakespeare and as the heroines of five of Bulwer's plays. Her part in Strafford (1837) led to a lifelong friendship with Browning. Illness interrupted her career in the winter of 1839–40 and "gross insinuations" in the press hinted at pregnancy and intimacy with Macready (Diaries, ii, 40, 48, 49); the situation was complicated by her deep personal devotion to him, with which he dealt wisely. Macready's mature judgment of her in 1845 was "a very pleasing, clever, and good actress, but … not a great one" (Diaries, ii, 307–8). In his Drury Lane season of 1842–3 CD saw her as Lady Mabel in The Patrician's Daughter and in King John, Comus, and probably Cymbeline. On CD's death she recalled "how kind he was to me when we met in my very early days at Mr. Macready's, Mr. S. C. Hall's, and at his own house" (Theodore Martin, Helena Faucit (Lady Martin), p. 306). From 1840 she was on social terms with the Macreadys, and had dined there with the Dickenses on 28 May 43 (Diaries, ii, 209). M'Ian, another early friend, also wrote to Edinburgh on her behalf, and his letter and CD's (of which she was unaware) were the means of Theodore Martin's first introduction to her (Martin, p. 117); they were married in 1851. The Edinburgh season, after a slow start on 14 Nov with The Lady of Lyons, was a triumphant success.
Editor’s Note
1 Allan's niece: see Vol. ii, p. 321.
Editor’s Note
2 Martin reads "very" : Kitton and N read "say" (for "sae"), obviously correctly.
Editor’s Note
3 Thus in Kitton and N; Martin reads "know".
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