by Rebecca Rego Barry
A small but interesting archive of material relating to Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Dickens has turned up at London-based Chiswick Auctions, consigned by a distant relation of the Ellis family. The product of that family’s long-term association with the two authors, the collection contains correspondence, envelopes, clipped autographs, stereoscopic photographs, a rare program pamphlet (1868) produced for a series of Dickens’ “Farewell Readings,” and a pencil drawing of 48 Doughty Street by a member of the Tennyson family, inscribed: “Home of Charles Dickens…. from Wilderness Aug 3rd 1870,” among other notable pieces.
Charles Ellis was a wine merchant with literary aspirations. According to a footnote in The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1987), where an October 1853 letter from the author to Ellis is recorded, “For many years [Ellis] purveyed wines to Dickens, vastly more knowledgeable and discriminating than Tennyson, but, himself a poet (Richmond and Other Poems, 1845), he seems … to have presented them to Tennyson, perhaps annually, as a sort of oblation.” Indeed another letter from Tennyson, written in 1866, thanks Ellis “for your Christmas gift of choice wines.”
The personal and longstanding connection between the correspondents may well be enough to encourage bidders toward the £4,000-6,000 ($5,000-7,400) estimate on Wednesday.
Images courtesy of Chiswick Auctions.
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