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Desk and chair used by Dickens in his study at Gad's Hill Place

Collection

object

Object number (per part)

DH105.1, 2015.4
DH105.2
DH105.3

Object name (per part)

desk
chair
chair seat

Production date

1845-1870

Label

A mahogany pedestal writing desk and walnut and fruitwood smokers armchair along with a portion of the original caning (now stored separately from the chair and a replacement cane in place), c.1850. This desk and chair were purchased by Charles Dickens in 1859 and used in the study of his home in Gad's Hill, Kent until his death in 1870. It was on this desk that Dickens would have penned portions of novels such as Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities and the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Other number

2098 (2009 DH object access database number)

Acqusition history

After the death of Charles Dickens in 1870, the desk and chair remained in the Dickens family.
It was often loaned to heritage institutions, including the Charles Dickens Museum from 1967 to 1987.
The desk was sold at a charitable auction for Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2008.
From 2009 the new owner placed it on long term loan at the Dickens Museum.
It was also displayed for a period at the National Gallery Dublin (2009 to 2010)
In 2015 the Charles Dickens Museum purchased the desk and chair with support from the National Monuments Trust and the Dickens Fellowship.

Physical description

Mahogany desk with drawers, varnished with hinged writing slope. Engraved metal plaque attached to the underside of the slope. Leather detail (with losses) on slope and desktop. Fruit-wood chair on casters with a case seat and cut-metal repair to an ornate spoke. Original cane seat stored separately.

Object history note

The desk and chair were acquired by Charles Dickens in 1859. On his death in 1870 it belonged to the Sir Henry Fielding Dickens. Dickens had an identical chair that he used in his office in Wellington Street, London. This desk and chair is shown in Luke Fildes engraving 'The Empty Chair' (DH104) as well as in Robert Buss's painting 'Dickens's Dream' (DH111) both of which are in the Museum's collection.

Dickens owned another chair very similar to the one with this desk: it was used in his Wellington Street offices and is now housed in the New York State Library.

Credit line

Purchased with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Dickens Fellowship.
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