Dickens's letter branding his father a 'jackass' to go on sale

Charles dickens

English writer Charles Dickens branded his own father a "jackass" for his recklessness with money, according to a newly-discovered letter.

The 172-year-old, unpublished letter is expected to sell for 3,000 pounds at an auction in London on November 13.

The novelist fell out with John Dickens after his father racked up huge debts so he could lead an extravagant lifestyle beyond his means.

Dickens senior regularly used his son's fame as an excuse to borrow money from his publishers and solicitors, with the author often having to pick up the bill, the Daily Mail reported.

By 1840, the problem got so bad that Dickens sent his father and mother Elizabeth to live in Devon to keep him out of trouble.

At the time the writer even took out adverts in newspapers to say he would no longer be paying off his father's debts.

But a letter that has now come to light after 172 years shows that John Dickens carried on borrowing money – and Dickens carried on bailing him out.

On August 17, 1842, the writer wrote to his solicitor Thomas Mitton in reply to letter asking him to pay off some of his father's debt.

Lambasting his father, Dickens wrote: "I think my father is a great Jackass - which is not a novel sentiment with me, by any means.

"I am rather horrified by your statement... I fear... that I have very little money and I did not expect you to come down upon me so soon," he wrote.

Signing off he promises to have dinner with him soon when he will "bring a blank cheque".

"This letter is further evidence of the appalling trouble Dickens had with his father who was very reckless financially," Michael Slater, a Dickens' expert, said.

"By 1841 Dickens was so exasperated that he told Mitton to put an advert in all daily newspapers saying he would not be responsible for any debts incurred by his father," he said.

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