This volume presents 918 letters, 435 previously unpublished, for the years 1862 to 1864. Our Mutual Friend, Dickens's main work in the period, comes out monthly from 30 April 1864 to 31 October 1865, illustrated by Marcus Stone, son of Dickens's old friend, the painter Frank Stone; a series of new letters to him shows the immense care Dickens took over his illustrations. The three All the Year Round Christmas numbers, "Somebody's Luggage", "Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings" and "Mrs. irriper's Legacy", take up much of his energies and are highly successful. Public readings do not occupy so much of his time as in the last volume; but he completes his second provincial tour in January 1862; gives two series weekly in London; and reads for charity in both Rochester and Paris. He declines an offer of GBP10,000 for an eight months' reading tour in Australia. Gad's Hill plays an increasingly major part in his life: he entertains many of his friends there and makes constant improvements to it. But there is no other period in which he pays so many visits to France, generally alone.
The deliberately mystifying language he uses about these visits suggests he was seeing Ellen Ternan either in Paris or Boulogne or both, but there is no evidence to prove it. Long letters to his Swiss friend, W. W. F. de Cerjat, testify to his concern with public issues; several show how much he hated the American Civil War.
Publisher: Oxford University Press