DICKENS, Charles; Robert Browning; & others.

Collection of autograph material, including 4 autograph letters signed by Charles Dickens, 4 by Robert Browning, and a quantity of other autograph material.

Various places: 1860s-1910s Stock Code: 137842
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Mr Dickens regrets

The Dickens and Browning letters are addressed to Emma Pender (1817-1891), second wife of Sir John Pender, Scottish textile merchant in Manchester, submarine communications cable pioneer, and politician.

The Dickens letters are:

a) with envelope, stamp clipped, to Mrs Pender, 9 Park St, Westminster, SW; 5 May 1863, declining an invitation to dine, formally written in the third person ("Mr Charles Dickens very much regrets")

b) Office of All the Year Round letterhead, 18 Jun 1863, one page; cannot dine, pleads prior engagement with the actor Charles Fechter ("I am singularly unfortunate when you invite me"), full signature

c) With envelope and Penny Red stamp; 19 Feb 1866, to Mrs Pender, Crumpsall House, Manchester, agrees to vote for Oliver Heywood, mentions daughter in Hampshire who would send her regards, looking for a house in London for a few months, full signature

d) with envelope, stamp clipped, to Mrs Pender, Minard (misspelled Nunard) Castle, Argyllshire; 19 Aug 1867, cannot visit, mentions daughter, full signature

The Browning letters are all to Mrs Pender at Foots Cray Place:

e) 19 Warwick Crescent letterhead, 4 July 1885, declining "the great pleasure you so kindly propose", pleading a prior engagement on the 22nd, full signature

f) with envelope, stamp clipped; 19 Warwick Crescent letterhead, 6 July 1885, accepting an invitation to visit on 25 July (" I well remember the beauty of Foots' Cray Place, although I only saw it in unfavourable weather some years ago"), full signature; together with a fragment of another letter to Mr Pender, also with Browning's full signature

g) 19 Warwick Crescent letterhead, 13 July 1885: reversing his previous acceptance ("To my extreme regret, I find that an arrangement for which I am not responsible has been made, obliging me to remain here on the 25th"), full signature

h) 29 De Vere Gardens letterhead, 15 July 1888, to Lady Pender, declining an invitation, full signature

Sir John Pender KCMG GCMG FSA FRSE (18161896) represented Totnes in parliament as a Liberal MP in 1862 to 1866 (the seat was disenfranchised by the Reform Act 1867), and Wick Burghs (Ross and Cromarty) from 1872 until his defeat in 1885. At various times the Penders lived at Crumpsall House, Manchester, Minard Castle, Argyllshire, 18 Arlington Street, London, and latterly at the Palladian mansion Foots Cray Place, Kent, where Sir John died. Pender was married twice: firstly in 1840 to Marion Cairns, who died giving birth to his son Henry in 1841; in 1851 he married Emma Denison (d.1890).

In 1866 he was director of a company that laid the transatlantic cable from Valentia Island off the coast of Ireland to Heart's Content, Newfoundland and Labrador. This cable was the most successful and commercially viable of all the transatlantic cables and was entirely British financed. He also had interests in railways and was a considerable art collector.

John Everett Millais painted a famous portrait of the Pender daughters sitting around a goldfish bowl, called "Leisure Hours" (1864), now in the National Portrait Gallery. In 1880 Millais also painted a Portrait of Mrs Kate Perugini (i.e. Katey, Charles Dickens's daughter).

The autograph collection has been added to by later family members, descendants of the Penders, no doubt inspired by the luminaries Dickens and Browning, consequently forming a substantial collection of autograph material, letters, and clipped signatures. The letters include some from Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, Charles Landseer, Lyon Playfair, William Henry Brookfield, and others, and clipped signatures from many more, politicians and theatrical types prominent among them.

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Together approximately 80 to 90 items, autograph letters, envelopes (stamps mostly removed), and clipped signatures.


Loosely grouped in a variety of envelopes and folders.


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