DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870).
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DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870).

Autograph letter signed ('Charles Dickens') to Edmund [Yates], 5 Hyde Park Place, London, 14 March 1870.

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DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870).
Autograph letter signed ('Charles Dickens') to Edmund [Yates], 5 Hyde Park Place, London, 14 March 1870.
One page, 178 x 113mm, on a bifolium with printed address of Gad's Hill Place.

'I take my leave of Public Reading tomorrow night'. Having discovered that Yates was away from home on Saturday night, Dickens has asked his promotors Chappell & Co. to send his tickets to Dickens's London address, from where he will forward them to Yates's wife. He goes on: 'Pray explain to Mr Sothern from me what he evidently does not know: – that I take my leave of Public Reading tomorrow night, and that I have pledged my word to the fact, in print, every day for the last four or five months'.

Dickens's enormously successful public readings from his works, which he launched in 1858, became almost a second career: from 1866 onwards, these were organised by the music publishers and concert promotors Chappell & Co., for a nightly fee which reached £80 by 1870. He had begun a long farewell series of performances in October 1868: 'Now included in Dickens's repertory was a highly sensational new reading derived from Oliver Twist (the murder of Nancy), the performance of which became almost an obsession with him despite warnings by doctors and friends that it was adversely affecting his health. In fact, by late April 1869 he had become so unwell that his doctors ordered him to abandon the tour. Anxious to compensate Chappells for the loss they had sustained, he prevailed on his doctor to allow him to present a final series of twelve readings in London (January–March 1870). He famously ended the last of these by saying, "From these garish lights I vanish now for evermore with a heartfelt, grateful, respectful and affectionate farewell"' (ODNB). He died less than three months later. The recipient is the writer Edmund Yates (1831-1894), a close friend of Dickens's for many years. Not recorded by the online Charles Dickens Letters Project.
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