Queen Victoria

Queen of Great Britain

Dickens and the Queen had considerable respect and admiration for each other, evident in many ways.

From 1845 on, Dickens directed and acted in a number of amatuer theatricals. When these plays were first presented to an audience, attendance was by invitation only. These theatrical productions were so well done that many people looked forward to them and asked to attend them, including Queen Victoria. Over a number of years the Queen was invited to and attended many of these plays, including Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, Bulwer-Lytton's Not So Bad as We Seem, and Wilkie Collins's The Frozen Deep.

In March of 1870, three months before he died, Dickens was received by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. She wished to thank him in person for some American Civil War photgraphs he had sent to her after she had requested them. She told Dickens how much pleasure she had gotten from seeing The Frozen Deep. The Queen presented him with an autographed copy of her Journal of Our Life in the Highlands and asked him for a set of his own works. Dickens sent her a set bound in red morroco and gold.

Little more than a week later Dickens was invited to and attended Her Majesty's next levee. He had sent the Queen the first number of Edwin Drood, which was to be published on March 31st, and offered, if she "should ever be sufficiently interested in the tale to desire to know a little more of it in advance of her subjects," to send advance copies of its future installments; but the Queen never took him up on his offer. Thus The Mystery of Edwin Drood remains a true mystery.

Soon after this meeting Dickens's daughter Mary was presented to the Queen.

Composed by our President, Dr. Jay Friedlin, Philadelphia Dickens Fellowship