Charles Dickens' Writing Desk Sold for $850,000

Posted on June 6, 2008

Photo of Charles Dickens' writing desk


Charles Dicken's writing desk and chair were sold at auction for $850,000 to an Irish millionaire.
Tom Higgins, who runs a company that provides live tarot card readings over the internet, said he may write letters at the desk. "I don't think I'll write anything more in-depth than that, or try to lift the spirit of Charles Dickens from the desk. But you never know, there might be some spirit left in it for me," he said after his successful bid.

The money raised in the auction will go to the Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London. Dickens was a close friend of the hospital's founder and spoke at its first fundraising dinner in 1858. The furniture was kept in Dickens' study at his country home Gad's Hill in southeast England and is seen in several portraits of the author.

It was passed down through the Dickens family and was recently donated to Great Ormond Street by Jeanne-Marie Dickens, the widow of Dickens' great-great grandson Christopher Charles Dickens.
The desk had been passed down through the family and was most recently owned by Jeanne-Marie Dickens, the widow of Dickens' great-great grandson Christopher Charles Dickens. She donated the desk to Great Ormond Street. Jeanne-Marie Dickens says in a statement, "Charles Dickens was a champion of the poor and needy and an enthusiatic patron of Great Ormond Street Hospital in its early days. My husband Charles shared his ancestor's desire to help the disadvantaged and when I became aware of the fundraising needs of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, I knew that I had to give the desk and chair to them. I felt that it was Charles’ wish, and it is an honour for me to fullfill this wish. The desk and chair have been seen and admired by the public for almost 40 years while on public view first at Dickens House Museum in London and then at Dickens Center, Eastgate House, Rochester until 2005, and it is fitting that their sale will provide care and support for the patients of Great Ormond Street hospital 150 years after Dickens himself spoke at their first fundraising dinner."

What a fabulous thing for a writer to own: Charles Dickens' actual writing desk. We suppose it's just as exciting for the new owner, although it's a bit of a mystery why he wanted it in the first place. We do hope that we won't be seeing the desk -- and an image of Dickens' ghost, perhaps -- on late night commercials in which we are urged us to call now for our personalized tarot reading.

Photo: Christie's