A GROUP of Coventry residents have started a fundraiser to raise money to buy a letter written by Charles Dickens about a Christmas he spent in the city.
If successful, they aim to donate it to the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
It will be sold at Christies on 15 December 2021.
The letter is a unique part of Coventry’s history, heritage, and culture by one of the greatest writers of all time.
Charles Dickens came to Coventry just before Christmas on 15 December 1857 to give a public reading of A Christmas Carol.
He had been invited by the Coventry MP Sir Joseph Paxton.
He performed at the Corn Exchange in Hereford Street (a building opposite the old Post Office).
He did this to raise money for the Coventry Institute which was founded to help working-class people study literature and science and raised £50.
The following Christmastime, on 4 December 1858, Charles Dickens returned to Coventry to attend a dinner that had been organised to thank him for raising money for the working-class people of Coventry the previous year.
That diner took place at the Castle Hotel on Broadgate (which stood at the top of the ramp where Primark is today).
After the dinner, Charles Dickens then wrote this famous Coventry letter to Joseph Paxton MP which detailed his hilarious trip to Coventry and all of the politicking and shenanigans that happened at that Christmastime dinner held in his honour.
The letter has been published in The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 8: 1856-1858 (1995), pp.714-6.
The estimate is £4,000 – £6,000.
Residents said: “If win the letter, we will collect it from Christie’s and deliver it to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry where it can be shared with the people of Coventry and its visitors forever, and any surplus amount raised will also be donated to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry.
“If we lose, all amounts raised will also be donated to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry.
“In other words, all donations will go to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum either as part of the purchase price of the letter or as a donation.”