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Dickens' desk up for charity auction

PUBLISHED: 16:04 09 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:38 23 August 2010

A DESK and chair on which world renowned novelist Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations is expected to be sold for £80,000 at auction. The furniture, which goes up for sale at Christies in London on June 4, was where the famous author wrote some of is

A DESK and chair on which world renowned novelist Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations is expected to be sold for £80,000 at auction.

The furniture, which goes up for sale at Christies in London on June 4, was where the famous author wrote some of is later works at Gads Hill Place in Higham, now the home to Gads Hill School.

Both items were passed on through family descent to Christopher Charles Dickens and his wife Jeanne-Marie Dickens, Countess Wenckheim, who donated it to Great Ormond Street children's hospital. The money raised through its sale will go to towards vital equipment and refurbishment of the building.

Countess Wenckheim said: "Charles Dickens was a champion of the poor and needy and an enthusiastic patron of Great Ormond Street hospital in its early days. My husband Charles shared his ancestor's desire to help the disadvantaged and when I became aware of the fundraising needs of Great Ormond Street children's hospital I knew that I had to give the desk and chair to them.

"I felt that it was Charles' wish, and it is an honour for me to fulfil this wish."

Charles Dickens bought Gads Hill Place in 1856, his permanent home from 1859. Dickens converted a small bedroom on the ground floor of the house into a book-lined study and it was in this room that the desk and chair sat. The chair is made of walnut and the desk is made of mahogany, both dating back to the mid 19th century.

According to the memoirs of the author's oldest daughter, on the evening of June 8, 1870, Charles Dickens wrote some letters in the library before he went to dinner and collapsed having suffered a stroke. He died the next day.

Charles Denton, executive director at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's charity, said: "We are very grateful to Jeanne Marie Dickens for this hugely generous gift.

"The author was not only a formidable champion for Great Ormond Street but also a tireless fundraiser.

"We need to raise £50 million every year to help provide world class care to very ill children and their families - this gift will help us do just that."

ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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