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Charles Dickens

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

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MS Harvard College Library.

  • 1 Devonshire Terrace | York Gate Regents Park.
  • Nineteenth July 1842.

Dear Madam.

I beg to set you right on one point, in reference to the American Robbers, which perhaps you do not quite understand.

The existing law allows them to reprint any English book, without any communication whatever—with the author, or anybody else. My books have all been reprinted on these agreeable terms.—But sometimes when expectation is awakened there, about a book, before its publication, one firm of Pirates will pay a trifle to procure early proofs of it,4 and get so much the start of the rest, as they can obtain by the time necessarily consumed in printing it. Directly it is printed, it is common property; and may be reprinted a thousand times.5

My circular only referred to such bargains as these.

I should add that I have no hope of the States doing Justice in this dishonest pg 275respect, and therefore do not expect to overtake these fellows—but we may cry "Stop Thief" nevertheless—especially as they wince and smart under it.

  •                                              Faithfully Yours always
  • Miss Pardoe.                                        Charles Dickens

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3 Julia Pardoe (1806–62; DNB), travel-writer, popular historian and novelist. Author of a volume of poems at 13. Travelled abroad for her health, and had already published five successful books on Portugal, Turkey, Hungary and France 1836–9, besides tales and novels. Her historical books were mainly condensations of French memoirs. Granted a Civil List pension 1860.
Editor’s Note
4 As Lea & Blanchard (whom CD now seems to be classing among the pirates) had done for Oliver Twist, Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby.
Editor’s Note
5 Probably Julia Pardoe had received some payment from Carey & Lea, and in response to CD's circular letter of 7 July had written to tell him so. They had published her Traits and Traditions of Portugal, 1834 (750 copies printed), The Mardens, and the Daventrys, Tales, 1835, and The City of the Sultan, 1838 (1000 of each printed): see The Cost Book of Cary & Lea 1825–1838, ed. David Kaser, Philadelphia, 1963. Yet it is less likely that she was paid for her novel Speculation, published by Harper & Brothers in 1834; and now Brother Jonathan was pirating her works : her poem "Blue-Stockings" on 23 Apr, "The Fatal Jest" on 28 May (both lifted from Ainsworth's Magazine); and Hungarian Tales and Legends appeared in a Brother Jonathan "Extra" on 17 Aug 42.
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