If you receive a knife as a gift, you must return that odd courtesy with another gift.
Charles Dickens was one of the most popular writers of his times and he received a trove of gifts from his admirers over the course of his career, including cutlery. In 1850 his novel David Copperfield, which he considered as his masterpiece, was published in England; William Brookes, the owner of the Sheffield tool company William Brookes and Sons, was miffed to learn that Dickens had used the name “Brooks of Sheffield” to ridicule his main character and wrote a letter to him. The author replied that: “it is one of those remarkable coincidences…I had no idea that I was taking a liberty with any existing firm, and why I added Sheffield to Brooks (of all the towns in England) I have no…knowledge. It came to my head as I wrote.”
Mr. Books was so satisfied with the writer’s courteous response to his concerns that he sent him a beautiful cutlery case in 1851. Alarmed at the prospect of being left out of that budding friendship, Dickens immediately prepared an autographed first copy of his book with a nice letter. That book will come to auction in London soon. For all his savvy knowledge of human character, Dickens respected old wives’ tales. Defiantly superstitious he always carried a navigational compass with him in order not to lose his way—artistic inspiration—with the contact of worldly distractions. To receive the inspirational influence of the muses, his bed always had to face North.
The author plied his trade in the beginning of the Victorian period that started with the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 and ended with her passing away in 1901. Despite all the purported social sophistication of Victorian middle and upper classes, they mostly believed in the mystical aspect of life and respected certain ingrained traditions at home. When a person died, all the mirrors of the place where the wake was being held had to be covered with a black cloth, lest the spirit became trapped in one of those gateways. All the clocks in the household were stopped to mark the mourning and to avoid bad luck for the survivors. The fear of opening an umbrella inside a home came from that era.
As many other writers, Dickens believed that the presence of a cat was necessary to maintain the inspiration in the artist’s residence. Mary Dickens, daughter of the author, said that initially cats were not allowed in the household because they had many birds. However, she received a white kitten called Willamina from a London friend and it instantly became a dear member of the family, developing a devotion for her father.
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Don’t leave me alone.