To Edward Robert Lytton, 03 November 1866





Extracts in Bonham’s catalogue, 20 June 2004(aa) & Jarndyce catalogue, CXCV,Winter 2011-12. Envelope addressed Robert Lytton at the British Legation, Lisbon, dated Office of All the Year Round, 3 November [1866].


(a) My Dear Robert Lytton (a)

I received your letter and packet here last night...Mrs. Brackenbury’s brothers are both friends of friends,3 and I know her story very well—I mean her own personal history. Of course I am (as you are) interested in her, and should be heartily glad to serve her. (a) I have written so much of the Xmas No.4 myself—half of it—that the small space available renders selection among the avalanche of contributions, twice as difficult as usual. Besides which, there are in Mrs. Brackenbury’s paper5 such manifest evidences of inexperience, that I fear it could not hold its own, even in the usual annual struggle with expert writers. But it is too good to return. Pray tell her that I accept it with much pleasure for insertion in an ordinary number, and that I will touch it with a gentle hand, and see to its not being long on the outer steps of the Temple.(a)6 The remembrance of a summer greeting from your charming wife7 is always fresh with me. It is late in the day to congratulate you on such an acquisition, but as I shall never forget her face and voice, and as I can never be indifferent to your happiness, I feel some sort of right to plead better late than never.

Affectionately yours [CHARLES DICKENS]

  • 1. Edward Robert Lytton (1831-91; Dictionary of National Biography), diplomat and poet (as “Owen Meredith”). The only son and second child of Edward Bulwer Lytton; dropped his first name to avoid confusion with his father. His diplomatic career began in 1850; Viceroy of India, 1876-80. Through his father he early became intimate with Forster, a close friend and literary advisor. Succeeded to his father’s barony, 1873, and created 1st Earl of Lytton, 1880: see further Pilgrim Letters 7, p. 694n.
  • 2. Incorrectly dated 1868 in Bonham’s catalogue (there was no Xmas No. in 1868).
  • 3. Mrs Brackenbury and her two brothers, unidentified. She was not the wife of the Rev. JohnMatthew Brackenbury ofWimbledon School: his first wife died 1865 and he only remarried 1867.
  • 4. “Mugby Junction”, All the Year Round Extra Xmas No., 10 Dec. CD wrote four out of the eight items: in To Halliday, 3 November, he notes, in accepting a proposal for the No., “the mass of contributions now tumbling in”.
  • 5. Lytton was posted at Lisbon, 1865-8, so possibly “House-Hunting in Lisbon”, All the Year Round, 9 Mar 67 (XVII, 246).
  • 6. Biblical in tone, but not a quotation.
  • 7. Lytton had married Edith (née Villiers, 1841-1936) in Oct 64.