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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. 2: 1840–1841

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Text from N, i, 314.

  • 1 Devonshire Terrace, York Gate, Regents Park, London
  • April the Thirteenth, 1841

Dear Madam,

Mr. Charles Knight punctually executed your commission and sent me pg 260Editor’s Noteyour father's biography.1 I should have acknowledged its receipt immediately, but I had forgotten your address, and hoped to have my memory refreshed by hearing from you again.

I have not yet had time to do more than dip into the volume just before going to bed, but what I have read has interested me greatly. The part on which I chanced to light on cutting the leaves was that which described Mr. Hutton's "running away", and first entry into Birmingham.2 I was much struck with the whole description of his journey—very much—and felt as if I were reading some new story by DeFoe.

Let me thank you very cordially for your kind recollection of me in sending me the book which I am sure I shall read with strong interest throughout, and with hearty good wishes for your health and happiness, believe me, Dear Madam,

  • Faithfully yours
  •           [Charles Dickens]

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Editor’s Note
6 Catherine Hutton (1756–1846; DNB), writer, needlewoman, collector of fashion-plates and autographs. Bulwer, Ainsworth and Augusta Leigh were among her many correspondents. For her varied accomplishments and remarkable industry to the age of 90, see Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the Last Century, ed. Mrs C. H. Beale, Birmingham, 1891. Besides completing her father's Life (see below) and his history of Birmingham, she published three novels, some minor works, and articles.
Editor’s Note
260 line 5 for I have read I have line 6 for on cutting read in cutting line 9 for DeFoe read De Foe line 12 read Faithfully Yours line 13 read Miss Catherine Hutton. CHARLES DICKENS
Editor’s Note
1 The Life of William Hutton, Stationer, of Birmingham; and the History of his Family. Written by Himself. With Some Extracts from his Other Works (one of Knight's "English Classics"), 1841. Catherine Hutton had originally published it in 1816, edited by herself, without the extracts from his other writings. William Hutton (1723–1815; DNB), author of The History of Birmingham, 1781, began work in a Derby silk-mill at the age of seven and rose to be a leading Birmingham citizen. A friend of Joseph Priestley, he was mobbed and his house sacked in the riots of 1791 (his "Narrative of the Riots" was published posthumously in his daughter's edition of the Life, 1816).
Editor’s Note
2 The section entitled "The History of a Week", pp. 10–16. It is an unadorned, vivid description of the 17-year-old William Hutton's running away, after a severe beating, from his uncle at Nottingham, to whom he was apprenticed as a stocking-weaver. It recounts how he walked to Derby with 2/- in his pocket, had his bags containing all his possessions stolen at Lichfield, walked on to Birmingham, where he slept for three-half-pence but failed to find work, and finally walked back to his father's lodgings at Derby, where he was reconciled with his uncle.
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