Autograph letter signed ("CD"), to Mrs Morson, sending both the salaries in one cheque and asking her to acknowledge its safe receipt, one page, 8vo, integral blank, Devonshire Terrace, 8 April 1850
DICKENS TO THE GOVERNESS OF URANIA COTTAGE, his home for fallen women in Shepherd's Bush: 'As the writing of Dombey proceeded Dickens was also devoting tremendous energy to the setting up of a home for homeless women, funded by Miss Burdett-Coutts, and intended for the rehabilitation of women who had fallen into prostitution or petty crime. Urania Cottage (named after Venus Urania) opened at Shepherd's Bush in west London in November 1847 and for the next ten years Dickens was very active in all aspects of its administration, in recruiting suitable inmates and arranging for their training in domestic skills, maintaining discipline, and in arranging for the sending of successful "graduates" of the home to start new lives in Australia (as does the reclaimed prostitute Martha in David Copperfield) or South Africa' (Michael Slater, ODNB). In 1847 he wrote an Appeal to Fallen Women for distribution among those taken in by police, containing a final appeal which well illustrates the deep feeling with which he committed himself to the project: 'In case there should be anything you wish to know, or any question you would like to ask about this Home, you have only to say so, and every information shall be given to you. Whether you accept or reject it, think of it. If you awake in the silence and solitude of the night, think of it then. If any remembrance ever comes into your mind of any time when you were innocent and very different, think of it then. If you should be softened by a moment's recollection of any tenderness or affection you have ever felt, or that has ever been shown to you, or of any kind word that has ever been spoken to you, think of it then. If ever your poor heart is moved to feel truly, what you might have been, and what you are, oh think of it then, and consider what you may yet become'.
The recipient, Georgiana (or Georgina) Morson, was Matron of the home from 1849 to 1854. She was the widow of a surgeon, James Morson, who had died in Brazil leaving her with three children to support. The other salary would be for Mrs Macartney, the Assistant Matron. This and the two letters following are from a cache of fourteen belonging to Miss Judith Hughes, a great-granddaughter of Mrs Morson, sold at the Stannary Gallery, Tavistock, on 9 July 2001. It is published in the Pilgrim Edition, xii, p. 623.