Autograph Letter Signed (“Charles Dickens”) to J.C. Parkinson [Joseph Charles Parkinson, a contributor to All the Year Round],

DICKENS, Charles 1812-1870. Writer (1868)


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a glowing letter of recommendation for Parkinson who hoped to be appointed Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

3 pages 8vo, Gad’s Hill Place, Christmas Day, 1868.

The image of Christmas as we know it today, with parties, dinners, family and friends gathered round the hearth, owes much to Dickens’ Christmas tales. The family celebrations, however, did not prevent Dickens from dealing with his correspondence with his typical energy. The Letters of Charles Dickens lists three letters from Dickens on this date, including this one.  

The recipient, J. C. Parkinson, was a contributor to Dickens’ popular publication, All The Year Round, and a respected friend of Dickens’, as is evident in this letter. Parkinson’s articles in All the Year Round included subjects close to Dickens’ heart – the slums of Westminster, tenement housing, and life in the workhouse. As Dickens’ writes, Parkinson is an “excellent public servant in your literary sphere of action”, and Dickens “should be heartily glad if you could have this new opportunity of distinguishing yourself in the same character”, even if he would be sad to “then lose you” as a talented and conscientious writer for his periodical.  

Dickens, writing on Christmas Day - the holiday he helped popularise through his Christmas Stories, the most famous of which being A Christmas Carol – writes a glowing review of his friend and colleague: a reference for Parkinson’s application for “the vacant Commissionership of Inland Revenue”. Dickens’ writes how Parkinson is “in every way qualified for it [the post]”, writing of Parkinson’s specific qualities and skills, and Dickens’ “trust” in his abilities – “My confidence in your powers has never been misplaced … it has become my habit to read your proofs rather for my own edification, than . . . for the detection of some slip here or there, or the more pithy presentation of the subject.”  

He writes, “In expressing my conviction that you deserve the place, and are in every way qualified for it, I found my testimony upon as accurate a knowledge of your character and abilities as any one can possibly have acquired. In my editorship – both of Household Words and All the Year Round, you know very well that I have invariably offered you those subjects of political and social interest to write upon, in which integrity, exactness, a remarkable power of generalizing evidence, and balancing facts, and a special clearness in stating the case, were indispensable on the part of the writer.”  

Dickens’ earliest recorded letter to Parkinson dates from August 1860, but their acquaintance developed into a warm friendship, and when Parkinson moved house in 1867, he asked Dickens for a portrait of him to hang in his new home.  

The letter has been published in Pilgrim, The Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. 12 (214855).

Stock Code: 214855

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