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F.S. Schwarzbach

F.S. Schwarzbach is the author of Dickens and the City and a professor of English at Washington State University.

What the Dickens

F.S. Schwarzbach, 5 April 1990

On 25 May 1851 Dickens wrote no fewer than 11 letters – or perhaps it is better to say that 11 of those he wrote have survived. Several were only a line or two, declining an invitation to a public dinner at the Royal Literary Fund, thanking a theatre manager for the use of the stage for rehearsals of his amateur players, and the like. But most were substantial: a few involved business relating to the Guild of Literature and Art, a sort of union and mutual aid society for authors that Dickens was then busy launching; one thanked a Sheffield firm (innocently mentioned in David Copperfield) for the gift of a set of knives; another attempted to patch up his lapsed friendship with George Cruikshank, who had probably been offended by Dickens’s attacks on his temperance pamphlets; another was a long, newsy report to a Swiss friend he hadn’t seen in years and one more thanked a Scottish author for sending a book of literary lectures. All in all, a busy but not an untypical day.’

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