Revealing letter from Charles Dickens complaining about long stay of Hans Christian Andersen at his Gad’s Hill home in Kent sells at auction

PUBLISHED: 09:26 11 September 2017

Charles Dickens (smoking) outside Gad's Hill Place, Higham, near Rochester,

Charles Dickens (smoking) outside Gad's Hill Place, Higham, near Rochester,


Letter written to a former prime minister fetches double its estimate

A letter penned by Charles Dickens complaining about a stay at his Kent home by the author Hans Christian Andersen has sold for £4,600 at auction.

In the note - written by Dickens to the former prime minister Lord John Russell in March 1857 - he bemoans the five-week stay by the Danish author during which he appears to have long outstayed his welcome.

The visiting author - best known for his fairytales - was staying as a guest at Dickens’ home in Gad’s Hill Higham, between Rochester and Gravesend.

In the letter he writes that Hans Christian Andersen had returned to Denmark and comments: “He spoke French like Peter the Wild Boy and English like the Deaf and Dumb School. He could not pronounce the name of his own book The Improvisatore, in Italian; and his translatress appears to make out that he can’t speak Danish”.

A spokesman for the auction house, Lacy Scott & Knight in Suffolk, which sold the letter - for more than double its estimate - explained: “Andersen stayed with the Dickens family for five weeks in 1857, a stay that appears to have been tolerated by Dickens rather than enjoyed.”

Apparently Dickens was under the impression his fellow author would be staying for a short stay - two weeks at most.

The letter sold for £4,600 and is set to remain in the country.

Two other letters from Dickens - both to the former prime minister - also sold. One penned in 1846 sold for £1,300 another from 1858 for £1,250.

It was one of a remarkable number of items from a collection which also included a scrap of Jane Austen’s handwriting plus letters from the likes of Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria and William Gladstone.


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