Description

These letters are bound with the handwritten draft of Nicholas Nickleby, penned by Charles Dickens around July 1838.

The letters are highly relevant to the novel. They were written from the Bowes Academy, a school in Yorkshire, between 1825–26. Both are to the parents of George Brooks, one from the boy himself and the other from the headmaster, William Shaw. Brooks writes he 'feels very happy and comfortable' and that he has not needed to see a doctor; tragically, the letter from Shaw just three months later breaks the news of Brooks's failing health and imminent death. The facts surrounding Brooks's illness and death are unknown. 

In 1823, Shaw had been prosecuted for beatings and neglect that led to the blinding of two of his pupils. Dickens visited the school in 1838. He found matters little improved and used William Shaw as his model for the hateful Wackford Squeers.

Transcript

[in pencil] Letter of Shaw and letter of Brooks
[in pencil] (the boy George Brooks died 10.55 pm the same night).

                                                                        Bowes, Feb[ruar]y 2nd 1824

Dear Sir
           It is with feelings indescribable, I
again inform you respecting your dear boy, who I
am sorry to say continues gradually hastening away
from us, and I am afraid my next Letter will have
to state his final departure, as this morning he
has begun with convulsion fits, and has not
left us any hope; the feelings of a Parent I can
bear with, having experienced a loss myself, but I hope
and trust on receipt of this or yesterdays Letter you will
immediately come to our house, and arrange as you
think proper, which will be much more satisfactory

[in pencil] A 20 [or A-C-O ?]

  1. Transcript

    [in pencil] Letter of Shaw and letter of Brooks
    [in pencil] (the boy George Brooks died 10.55 pm the same night).

                                                                            Bowes, Feb[ruar]y 2nd 1824

    Dear Sir
               It is with feelings indescribable, I
    again inform you respecting your dear boy, who I
    am sorry to say continues gradually hastening away
    from us, and I am afraid my next Letter will have
    to state his final departure, as this morning he
    has begun with convulsion fits, and has not
    left us any hope; the feelings of a Parent I can
    bear with, having experienced a loss myself, but I hope
    and trust on receipt of this or yesterdays Letter you will
    immediately come to our house, and arrange as you
    think proper, which will be much more satisfactory

    [in pencil] A 20 [or A-C-O ?]

  2. Transcript


               and very much relieve us, tho’ I would not have
    considered any thing an impediment, provided
    it would have been useful to him, - I must say
    he always attracted my particular attention being
    so very peaceable and clean in his person. In hopes
    of seeing you on Sunday, and that Mrs Brookes and
    yourself may long be spared to each other
                        I am, Dear Sir
                                   Your h[um]ble Serv[ant]
                                              W[illiam] Shaw

  3. Transcript

    [postmark]                             L E E D S
                                             FE[BRUARY] 2
                                                  1826
                                                   196


                                                                [initials]
          Mr Brooks,
                   Chatteris
                             Isle of Ely
                                       Camebridgshire



                                             [seal]

  4. Transcript

                                      Bowes, November 14th, 1825

    Dear Parents
              I write you these few lines to inform
    you on Saturday 5th of November we had a jovial and
    merry day and night in burning old Guy upon the
    hills, and I am happy to say without one of my school
    fellows happening any misfortune whatever, and I am
    glad to say I have enjoyed the best of health
    since I last wrote to you, which I hope is the same
    with you and all my dear Brothers and Sisters,
    Uncles, Aunts and Cousins and all my other dear

  5. Transcript


                                                                                                                26

               parcel may be brought us. I have 10s " 6d left of my mo-
               ney, but my Master thinks I had better wear my shoes
               sliding than skates, for fear of a misfortune by them.
                         I now beg to remain in love and duty to yourselves
               not forgetting Mr and Mrs Shaws compliments who
               are very kind to me,
                                    Your affectionate Son
                                             George Broo[ks]