Charcoal and chalk drawing of Charles Dickens giving a reading, St. James's Hall, 1870
Drawing of Charles Dickens reading Sikes and Nancy on one of his farewell readings in St James Hall, sometime between 11 January and 15 March 1870. The artist is unidentified. Framed black, grey and white charcoal and chalk drawing.
2300 (2009 DH object access database number)
chalk and charcoal on paper - framed
Dickens first read 'Sikes and Nancy' on his Final Reading Tour of England, Scotland and Ireland, beginning in 1868. He took great pleasure in the response of the audience to this reading but many felt the energy he expanded in giving it contributed to his declining health. Of the 100 appointments he was commissioned for the Farwell Reading Tour, he only completed 75, suffering from dizziness and partial paralysis. In 1969, he suffered a stroke and on another occasion, he collapsed. The tour was cancelled, but a further 12 performances at the St James, London were commissioned for early 1870 to make up for those not completed the year before. This drawing is from one of these readings. The Museum holds an annoted verision of a reading copy of 'Sikes and Nancy', identical to the one owned by Dickens.