Charles Dickens Autograph Letter Signed, one page, 4.25" x 7.25". Broadstairs, September 12, 1843. To actor and dramatist T[homas] J[ames] Serle, who served as Dickens' acting manager. He writes: "I shall see you tomorrow evening, of course. Will you send Miss Elton the enclosed? She ought to have had it last Friday, but I had no memorandum of her address." Dickens writes from his Bleak House address in Broadstairs, Kent, a coastal town where the Dickens family spent most summers and holidays. Published in The Letters of Charles Dickens, Pilgrim Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974).

    "Miss Elton" was Esther or Rose Elton, eldest daughters of actor Edward William Elton (1794-1843) and "the enclosed" was likely a check. Elton's wife had died in 1840, leaving him a widower with seven children to care for. Two months before the date of this letter, Elton drowned while returning home from an acting engagement in Edinburgh. He had been Chairman and Treasurer of the Theatrical Fund.

    Dickens, along with other theatre members, organized to raise funds for the support of the large family of orphans. Advertisements for benefits were placed in London newspapers, the first appearing on July 26, 1843, headed: "THE ORPHAN FAMILY of the late Mr. W. ELTON." The ad read: "A Committee is formed for the purpose of arranging a Benefit for the seven fatherless and motherless CHILDREN of Mr. W. ELTON, late of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, a sufferer in the fatal wreck of the Pegasus. The performances will be announced as soon as possible; in the mean time offers of professional service on the occasion will be gratefully received, as well as subscriptions in money, by CHARLES DICKENS." Serle was a member of aforementioned Committee.

    The letter is in near fine condition with a bold signature finished with an elaborate flourish. A thin mounting remnant remains along the right edge of the blank integral sheet on verso.

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