Our first autograph of Dickens relating to his Christmas stories, for which he remains beloved.
Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens which took its name from the line from Shakespeare’s “Familiar in his mouth as household words” in “Henry V”. It was published every Wednesday from March 1850 to May 1859, and contained a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. A large amount...
Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens which took its name from the line from Shakespeare’s “Familiar in his mouth as household words” in “Henry V”. It was published every Wednesday from March 1850 to May 1859, and contained a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. A large amount of the non-fiction dealt with the social issues of the time, as one might expect knowing Dickens’ interests. Dickens liked to serialize his work in the magazine, in addition to having it published in book form, so a number of his books also appeared in Household Words. It was customary in the 19th century for issues of magazines to be bound together in book form, so he would also take articles on a similar theme that had appeared in the magazine, and gather them together for publication as a book.
Dickens loved Christmas stories, and, of course, it is his classic, “A Christmas Carol”, that has contributed so much to his ongoing popularity. He made a practice of having Christmas stories published in his magazine, and these were generally contained in a special Christmas edition. His first contribution to a Household Words ‘Extra Christmas Number’ was “A Christmas Tree,” which was inspired by children gathered around that recent innovation, the Christmas tree which was introduced into England by Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, in 1841. Dickens’s second and third short-fiction Christmas offerings, “The Poor Relation’s Story” and “The Child’s Story” are his contributions to” A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire” in the Christmas Number of Household Words for 1852. In 1853, Dickens contributed “The Schoolboy’s Story” and “Nobody’s Story” to “Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire” in the Christmas Number for Household Words. Some other Christmas Stories include “The Seven Poor Travellers” in the Christmas Number for Household Words in 1854, “The Holly-tree Inn” (the Christmas Number for Household Words for 1855, “The Wreck of the Golden Mary” for the Christmas Number of Household Words in 1856; and there were others.
His “Christmas Tales, being the Extra Numbers of Household Words”, 1859, signed by Dickens on the title page, with his frontispiece portrait, and the ownership inscription of “Mr Russell Browne, York, 1859” on the verso of the title. The original owner was Walter Browne, which we know from a note retained by the original seller, stating that “This volume of Christmas Tales by Charles Dickens…is specially autographed by him for ‘Pa Browne,’ who had the leaflet sent up to him, & he kindly signed it – Pa Browne died in 1882…” This volume is a collection of the magazine issues apparently put together and bound by Browne, with the title page specially printed by him as well. The volume features some of Household Words’ classic short stories, including “A Christmas Tree” (1850), “What Christmas is as We Grow Older” (1851), “The Poor Relations Story” (1852), “The Child’s Story” (1853), “Nobody’s Story” (1853), “The Seven Poor Travelers” (1854), “The Holly Tree Inn” (1855), “The Wreck of the Golden Mary” (1856), “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners” (1857), “Going into Society” (1858) among others. The initials “C.D.” are pencilled in besides Dickens’ own contributions.
This is our first Dickens item directly relating to Christmas and the stories he wrote for that holiday. It remained in the Browne family until we acquired it.
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