DICKENS, Charles. Twelve autograph letters signed (10 signed "Charles Dickens," with elaborate flourish, two signed "C. D."), all to Henry Porter Smith (1797-1880), London and Kent, 24 February 1843 - 5 August 1868. Together 24 pages, 8vo, one with autograph envelope signed ("Charles Dickens"). [ALSO WITH:] DICKENS. Autograph letter dictated by Dickens and signed by a secretary, to Smith, 12 January 1846. 1p., 8vo; ALS from Charles Dickens, Jr. to Smith, 26 September 1871; and an ALS from Frank T. Sabin to Mrs R. Porter Smith, 30 April 1889, 1p., 8vo. All in a cloth slipcase. Provenance: Kenyon Starling.
"AFTER OCTOBER (WHEN I HOPE TO FINISH COPPERFIELD) I SHALL BE MORE AT LIBERTY, I HOPE"...
An important and revealing collection of letters that captures the frenetic pace of Dickens's life, as well as his sense of humor; and mentions his work on three key books, American Notes, Dombey & Son, and David Copperfield. In the 5 April 1841 letter, Dickens tells Smith (his longtime friend and insurance actuary) that he is "indisposed by a bilious attack," and begs off an appointment, adding: "indisposition is a serious matter to me who am so constantly engaged..." There's little evidence of rest or relaxation in any of these letters, as Dickens continually drives himself at a punishing pace. On 11 July 1842 he cancels another meeting and mentions his famous American Notes: "the correspondence I have to get through just now (to say nothing of my American Sketches that may be just shaping themselves in my head) is so preposterously enormous that even on this sunny day I am forced to stay at home until dinner time though by noon I was in the desperate condition of Jack in the spelling book, who was also a martyr to all work and no play..." On 22 April 1846 he looks for an Alpine retreat to work on another novel: "I have a long book to write [Dombey & Son], and having edited my plan, think of going to Switzerland for a twelvemonth to write it peacefully..."
On 9 July 1847: He explains that he cannot stay at Smith's house when he comes to town next week "for the Liverpool and Manchester plays," as he will be "continually going out and coming in, at unholy hours," and he recites a comic litany of what will likely transpire in his own house: "Item, the timid will come at impossible reasons to 'go over' their parts with the manager....Item, one hundred letters per diem will arrive from Manchester and Liverpool; and five actresses, in very limp bonnets, with extraordinary veils attached to them, will be always calling, protected by five mothers...I am, for the time, that obscure thing...A PLAYER..."
On 31 July 1850 he mentions his autobiographical masterpiece: "London is such a strange place, that one never does see anybody in it, and I have seen less than nothing of most of my friends, this year, on account of heavy work. But after October (when I hope to finish Copperfield) I shall be more at liberty, I hope..." His 5 August 1868 letter describes--in a faltering hand--his exhaustion after his second (and final) American tour: "though I returned in great force, I had been in America extremely unwell from the hard work and the harder climate. The winter was unusually severe, and I was usually knee-deep in snow." He had another hundred or so readings scheduled for England, Ireland, and Scotland. "I have my hands pretty full--for a resting man...."
Smith was an actuary for the Eagle Life Assurance Co., and may have supplied the story of murder and fraud that Dickens used in his 1859 tale, "Hunted Down." Together 15 items. (15)