[William Charles Macready, celebrated actor and friend of Charles Dickens.] Autograph Letter Signed ('W. C. Macready') to 'Mr. Hawtrey', written within days of the death of his 'Sister and Friend' Letitia; also discussing the Sherborne Institution.

William Charles Macready [W. C. Macready], celebrated actor and friend of Charles Dickens [his 'Sister and Friend' Letitia Margaret Macready (d.1858); Hawtrey; Sherborne Institution, Dorset]
Publication details: 
Sherborne House [Dorset]. 9 November [1858].
SKU: 20876

The present item was written at the end of a period of great tribulation for Macready. As W. T. Price explains in his biography: 'Macready suffered repeated sorrows in his retirement. His wife died in 1852, and his two sons died in their youth, Walter Francis Sheil, aged 13, in 1853, Henry Frederick Bulwer, aged 19, in 1857. His daughter Lydia did not pass her sixteenth year, dying in 1858, while later in the same year was laid to rest his sister Letitia, upon whose stone Macready caused to be inscribed " The Sister and Friend of William Charles Macready."' The identity of the recipient is unclear. He cannot be Edward Craven Hawtrey of Eton, as the he was a minister, and the letter is addressed to 'Mr. Hawtrey'. Regarding the 'Institution' referred to in the letter Dickens wrote to a friend on 3 November 1854: 'I promised to go down and read my “Christmas Carol” to the little Sherborne Institution, which is now one of the few active objects he has in the life about him'. 4pp., 16mo. Bifolium with thick mourning border, on paper embossed with the Macready crest. In good condition, lightly aged. Written four days after the death of his beloved sister Letitia, who formed part of his household. Begins: 'My dear Mr. Hawtrey | You would possibly soon have heard from other quarters the mournful tidings, that I must now communicate – in the dear and deep loss of my Sister and friend, who was taken from life and us at a very early hour yesterday morning. - I am quite sure, my family and myself will have the sympathy of kind Mrs. Hawtrey and yourself in our bereavement.' Regarding the Sherborne Institution, Macready writes that he is placed in a 'painful position', which obliges him 'to attend to the business of transferring what I can of my responsibilities to others, who are kind enough to come forward to assist me.' He is certain that Hawtrey 'need be under no concern for the arrangment of the subjects – there will be at least three gentlemen present, who will be looking for the Book-keeping and [?] sciences of numbers'. He hopes Hawtrey will be able to meet with 'Dr B[ooth?] and the other Examiners on Thursday moring at the [?] to settle the distribution of the day's work, and to meet the Committee at the Collation at 5 in the afternoon'. He hopes Mrs Hawtrey will be able to accompany her husband to he 'Evening Meeting […] in the Institution Rooms'. He ends with his regards and those of his daughters to the Hawtreys.