Among the most popular of authors in English literature, Charles Dickens achieved enormous fame during his lifetime. In addition to his large corpus of novels, he edited the miscellanies, Household Words and All the Year Round. These collections of fiction, essays, news, and poetry included his serials Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. Dickens, who has been described as a meticulous journalist and editor also produced Bleak House, Hard Times, and Little Dorrit. From 1840-1841, he published serially Barnaby Rudge and The Old Curiosity Shop, the story of the orphaned Nell Trent and her shop owner grandfather, which appeared in book form in 1841. The book’s enormous popularity in the United States was so great that readers in New York stormed the pier when the ship carrying the book arrived.
Dickens, with his wife, Catherine, and her maid, landed in Boston on January 21, 1842, for his first tour of America, where he undertook “a five-month vacation in America, touring strenuously and receiving quasi-royal honours as a literary celebrity, but offending national sensibilities by protesting against the absence of copyright protection,” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). At the end of March, Dickens traveled by horse-drawn coach, railroad and canal boat from Washington, D.C. across Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh, where he spent three days at the fashionable Exchange Hotel, during which time he penned our quotation, a passage which announces the protagonist’s death as a result of the rigors of travel. Among the many fans who came to pay their respects to the city’s esteemed visitor, was a teenage Stephen Foster. Dickens’ impressions of the city were recorded just months later in his American Notes: “Pittsburg is like Birmingham in England; at least its townspeople say so. Setting aside the streets, the shops, the houses, wagons, factories, public buildings and population, perhaps it may be.”
Matted with a portrait. Some visible creasing and wear. Not examined out of the mat. Anything written by Dickens from his first trip to America is rare and desirable. This quotation has been off the market since 1985.