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.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Gravesend Reporter visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Gravesend Reporter staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Gravesend Reporter account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News


Which one of these nine defenders is England’s greatest centre back of all time?

A community celebration will be taking place this Saturday (June 23) to mark the end of Ramadan.

Firefighters were called to a fire involving some vehicles and sheds in Gloucester Road, Gravesend this morning.


England Test stalwart Ian Bell appears intent on inspiring a momentous Warwickshire run-chase at Tunbridge Wells after Kent set the visitors a mammoth victory target of 519 in a shade over five sessions.

Yesterday, 20:30

Kent century-maker Sean Dickson admitted the first two days of their County Championship Division Two match with Warwickshire had been totally different at Tunbridge Wells.

A further 172 homes were approved for Ebbsfleet Garden City last night (Wednesday, June 20).

Most read

Digital Edition

Read the Gravesend Reporter e-edition today

Newsletter Sign Up

Gravesend Reporter twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Show Job Lists

Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder