Letter 9 | 22 March 1842 | to William Charles Macready, page 4

Charles Dickens

Autograph letter signed, Baltimore, 22 March 1842, to William Charles Macready

Acquired by Pierpont Morgan before 1913

MA 106.43
Item description: 

The same day Dickens wrote to Angela Burdett-Coutts, he penned a more reflective, candid letter to Macready, expressing his overall impressions of the United States: "The people are affectionate, generous, open-hearted, hospitable, enthusiastic, good humoured, polite to women, frank and cordial to all strangers; anxious to oblige; far less prejudiced than they have been described to be; frequently polished and refined, very seldom rude or disagreeable." Nevertheless, Dickens concluded: "I am disappointed. This is not the Republic I came to see. This is not the Republic of my imagination. In every respect but that of National Education, the Country disappoints me. ... And England, even England, bad and faulty as the old land is, and miserable as millions of her people are, rises in the comparison."

Exhibition section: 


Dickens visited the United States twice, first traveling extensively with his wife from 22 January to 7 June 1842. Twenty-five years later—from 19 November 1867 to 22 April 1868—he returned alone for an exhausting reading tour.

Prior to his first visit, he had "dreamed by day and night, for years, of setting foot upon this shore, and breathing this pure air." He received an unprecedented enthusiastic and extravagant welcome, as befitted the world's first literary superstar. But he soon grew tired of the intrusion resulting from his lionization. After making several vehement speeches in favor of an international copyright agreement that would protect his work from piracy in the United States, he was deeply hurt by the vitriolic response of the American press. His bitter disappointment is recorded in American Notes for General Circulation and his novel Martin Chuzzlewit (1843–44).

When Dickens returned in 1867, his fame, and the adulation it inspired, had intensified. In seventy-six public readings, he performed for more than one hundred thousand people and earned $95,000, equivalent to approximately $1.5 million in today's money.


me to have done in what Willmott wod. call "one of Mr. Macready's rushes"—As my pen is getting past its work I have taken a new one to say, that I am ever, My Dear Macready your faithful friend. CD.