Signed invitation card with AUTOGRAPH ENTRY IN THE AUTHOR'S HAND, SIGNED ON THE VERSO, together with annotated playbill for the production of Ben Jonson's "Every Man in his Humour", performed by Dickens' company, the Amateur players
playbill 265 x 215mm, printed in red, green and gold, the invitation card 98 x 136 mm., printed in green and gold, playbill slightly creased at folds
A VERY RARE EXAMPLE OF A TICKET AND PLAYBILL FROM ONE OF DICKENS' THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES, AND POSSIBLY UNIQUE IN APPROXIMATING A COMPLETE CAST LIST.
Dickens' performance as Captain Bobadil in his private production of Jonson's comedy is widely regarded as his highest theatrical achievement. The invitation card, which is also in effect a ticket to the performance, carries his characteristic signature on the verso, and an autograph entry requesting the pleasure of "Miss Holskamp's" company on the first night, seating her in "Boxes, Second Circle", number "44". The success of the author's performance is attested by a portrait of him in the role, painted by C.R. Leslie in 1846, and lithographed by Thomas Maguire. The playbill is annotated (in a separate hand) with an almost complete cast list, providing a fascinating record of the roles taken by members of Dickens' family and his friends, such as Fred Dickens, Mark Lemon, Douglas Jerrold, John Leech, Augustus Dickens, Marcus Stone, Frederic Evans and others. The first night, at Miss Kelly's Theatre, was a lavish affair, preceded by the overture to Rossini's William Tell (Dickens had recently returned from Italy, which may have influenced the choice) and silver-fork novelist Catherine Gore's one act farce A Good Night's Rest; or, Two O'Clock in the Morning.
Miss Holskamp was one of four sisters born in Somers Town near Camden Town in north London. The most likely invitee is Margaret Holskamp (1827-1908), who is cited as a correspondent of Kate Dickens by Liian Nayder, in her biography of Dickens' wife (The Other Dickens: A Life of Cathering Hogarth, p.139), and who is recorded as having discouraged the advances of William de la Rue, brother of Augusta de la Rue, whom Dickens met in Genoa in 1845 and on whom he practiced the power of mesmeric healing.
A photocopy of an autograph note by the Dickens collector William E. Self is included in the lot, where he suggests that the names of the actors are in the hand of Dickens' wife Catherine. This is possible, since it is well known that Catherine contributed to the production. A copy of Bell's Edition of the Garrick version of Every Man in his Humour (8vo, 1777), wrappers, is also included in the lot.
William E. Self, copy of autograph note included in the lot
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate.
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