Dickens, Charles (1812 – 1870)
An angry Dickens on ‘What the truth is, and what it is not’
A fine three-page autograph letter signed by Charles Dickens, 11th March 1854. Dickens writes to the journalist Peter Cunningham, reacting angrily to an article in the London News of March 4th 1854 in which Cunningham suggested that the title of Hard Times, and in some respects the ‘turn of the story’ were based on the Preston Strike.
Dickens opens, Being down at Dover yesterday, I happened to see the illustrated London News lying on the table, and there read a reference to my new book which I believe I am not mistaken in supposing to have been written by you. I don’t know where you may have found your information, but I can assure you that it is altogether wrong. The title was many weeks old, and chapters of the story were written, before I went to Preston or thought about the present strike. The mischief of such a statement is twofold.’
First, it encourages the public to believe in the impossibility that books are produced in that very sudden and cavalier manner (as poor Newton used to feign that he produced the elaborate drawings he made in his madness, by working at his table); and secondly in this instance it has this pernicious leaning: It localises (so far as your readers are concerned) a story which has a direct purpose in reference to the working people all over England, and it will cause, as I know by former experience, characters to be fitted onto individuals whom I never saw or heard of in my life.’
Dickens concludes ‘I do not suppose that you can do anything to set this mis-statement right… if you will, at any future time, ask me what the fact is before you state it, I will tell you as frankly and readily as it is possible for one friend to tell another, what the truth is and what it is not. Always faithfully yours, Charles Dickens.’
In very fine condition.