RECORD BREAKING PRICE FOR A SIGNED DICKENS’ VOLUME
A signed early edition of “A Tale of Two Cities” sent by Charles Dickens to George Eliot has been valued for an upcoming auction at more than a quarter of a million pounds.
Peter Harrington, a rare-book seller in London, has put a price of £275,000 for the copy of “A Tale of Two Cities,” which features Dickens’ signature and the inscription: “To George Eliot. With high admiration and regard. December, 1859.” Dickens had been a fan of Eliot ever since the author, whose real name was Mary Ann Evans, sent him a copy of her debut book, “Scenes of Clerical Life.”
Writing to her in 1858 to tell her of his admiration, Dickens was one of the first people to guess Eliot might be a woman. He praised the “exquisite truth and delicacy” of her stories, which he said he had “never seen the like of.”
“I should have been strongly disposed, if I had been left to my own devices, to address the said writer as a woman,” Dickens continued. “I have observed what seem to me to be such womanly touches, in those moving fictions, that the assurance on the title-page is insufficient to satisfy me, even now. If they originated with no woman, I believe that no man ever before had the art of making himself, mentally, so like a woman, since the world began.”
Later, when Eliot sent Dickens a copy of her novel “Adam Bede,” in July 1859, she would reveal her identity – a piece of news Dickens told her he would keep in confidence, adding what a “rare and genuine delight” it had been “to become acquainted in the spirit with so noble a writer.”
The copy of “A Tale of Two Cities” he sent to Eliot was a presentation copy – authors would request a handful of copies from their publishers to give away early to the people they wanted to see it. The edition resurfaced in the 1920s, when the step-granddaughter of Eliot decided to sell it. According to the bookseller, there is only one other known book inscribed by Dickens to George Eliot: a copy of the second edition of “The Uncommercial Traveller,” inscribed in January 1861.
According to the BBC, the most a Dickens work has previously gone for is the $290,500 (£175,100), paid for a pre-publication presentation copy of “A Christmas Carol” which Christie’s sold in New York five years ago.
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