Fine Books, Atlases and Manuscripts / DICKENS (CHARLES) Autograph letter signed (Charles Dickens), to Dear Miss Marryat, concerning a story that he refuses to publish, Tavistock House, 13 February 1860
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'I DO NOT THINK IT IS A GOOD STORY' – an exasperated Dickens turns down a story by Frederick Marryat's daughter Florence and upbraids her for the preposterous demands she makes upon him as an editor. Marryat had two other daughters who wrote fiction, Augusta and Emilia, although the identity of Florence as recipient of this wonderfully rude missive is confirmed by an early pencil note (which probably quotes the wording of the now lost envelope). Two stories by a Miss Marryat had already appeared in Dickens's earlier journal, Household Words, 'Cast Away' (Vol. XIX, 5 February 1859, pp. 222-27) and 'Friends in Australia' (Vol. XIX, 21 May 1859, pp. 584-88), but these could have been by either Augusta or Emilia who are known to have written works, like these stories, with an Australian setting. Florence herself, who although married wrote under her illustrious maiden name, had returned from India earlier that year. She is recorded by Percy Fitzgerald as being a 'contributor of an occasional kind' and writing 'stories which were much read, besides a few light articles for the journal' ( Memories of Charles Dickens, with an account of 'Household words' and 'All the year round', and of the contributors thereto, 1913, p. 297). Her first novel, Love's Conflict, was published in 1865; and in 1869 she published a tale of bigamy entitled Véronique, which bore a dedication to Dickens which declares that: 'My offering is but a common flower – perhaps a weed – but, at any rate, plucked feebly from the fields of my imagination; and neither forced in a hot-house, nor sprung from a dunghill, as some of the criticisms upon modern novels would lead one to believe'. The present letter is not published in the Pilgrim edition of Dickens's letters.