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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 W. H. WILLS,2 [?LATE MAY 1837]

MS Brotherton Library, Leeds. Date: on mourning paper (wide black border); perhaps same day as last. The "little poetic tale" appeared in the July Miscellany.

  • 48 Doughty St., Mecklenburgh Square |
  • Wednesday Morning.

Mr. Dickens presents his compliments to Mr. W. H. Wills, and begs to apologise to him for the delay which has occurred in returning the inclosed pg 265paper, which has been quite accidental. Mr. Dickens would have accepted it with much pleasure, had not so many papers founded on the same idea (translations and otherwise) appeared in our periodical Literature of late years. It is curious that he has by him at this moment no less than three which have been offered for the Miscellany, and the main feature of each of which, is, the very same delusion that Mr. Wills describes.

The little poetic tale1 pleases Mr. Dickens very much, and he proposes to insert it in the July Number. He will be happy at all times to pay the promptest attention to anything Mr. Wills may send him.

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Editor’s Note
2 William Henry Wills (1810–80; DNB), later CD's personal secretary, one of his most trusted friends, and assistant editor of Household Words and All the Year Round. He began his career as a wood-engraver in the office of J. H. Vizetelly, whose son Henry records that Wills "drifted into literature, under the wing of Mrs Cornwall Baron Wilson … whose patronage he ill-requited in a fashion that imperilled his liberty, and something like a cloud hung over him for several years afterwards" (Glances back through Seventy Years, 1893, i, 247). On his father's death, supported the family by journalism, contributing to Friendship's Offering, the Monthly Magazine (sub-editor 1835) and the Penny Magazine. In 1837 had two plays performed at the Surrey Theatre—The Larboard Fin and The Law of the Land (which ran for 53 nights). In Jan 38, after a prolonged illness and temporary loss of sight, the Literary Fund granted him £15 (Minute-book, MS Royal Literary Fund). See later vols.
Editor’s Note
1 "A Lyric for Lovers" (July 37, ii, 50), for which he was paid £1—Wills's only contribution to the Miscellany. He reprinted it in his Poet's Wit and Humour, 1861.
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