'Charles Dickens was desperate to leave wife for teen actress'

Charles dickens

Charles Dickens was desperate to separate from his wife for an affair with a teenage actress, according to a newly unearthed letter written over 150 years-ago by the iconic Victorian-era author.

A homeowner in the Cotswolds discovered the letter during a spring clean when it fell from a paperback Bible given to her by an elderly neighbour.

Dickens was in the process of separating from Catherine, mother of his 10 children, when he fired off the letter to his lawyer in May 1858, the Daily Telegraph reported.

He offered a settlement of 600 pounds per year, equivalent to around 25,000 pounds in today's money, and spoke of Catherine in contemptuous tones.

The author noted sarcastically that the sum was a tidy one and suggested it would allow his estranged wife to maintain her Brougham, a horse-drawn carriage, in style.

Writing to Frederic Ouvry, his solicitor, on May 23, 1858, Dickens said: "Dear Ouvry, I have considered and re-considered the points we talked of yesterday, and have gone over them again...We must come off for a payment of six hundred a year, including everything. This will keep her Brougham quite as well she has ever had it kept, and will do all she wants, I am sure."

Catherine had then recently learnt that her husband was having an affair with Ellen Ternan, a young actress who was barely 18 when the middle-aged author became hopelessly infatuated with her.

She is said to have found out when a bracelet Dickens ordered for his mistress was mistakenly delivered to the family home.

Within days of Dickens writing the letter, the couple legally separated. He remained with Ternan until his death. The letter will be sold by Fraser's Autographs of London

on September 27, with an auction estimate of 1,000-1,500 pounds.

Jackie Sheehan, who is offering the letter for sale, said: "This little paperback Bible was in a batch of books which my sister's mother-in-law was given by an elderly

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