[London]: November 2, 1867. Pale green coated card, measuring 3 x 4.5 inches, printed recto only: “Dinner given to Mr. Charles Dickens / on the occasion of / His Departure for the United States / Freemason's Hall, Great Queen St. / Saturday, November 2nd 1867, Seven o'clock.” Lightest edgewear.
Admission ticket #70 for the public banquet given in honor of Charles Dickens as he embarked on his final American reading tour. In 1867, Dickens was at the height of his literary fame, and the grand farewell dinner at London’s Freemason’s Hall was attended by almost five hundred guests, including Matthew Arnold, Wilkie Collins, Alfred Tennyson, and Anthony Trollope. In his response to the toasts, Dickens outlined his reasons for returning to America: “ I am inspired . . . by a natural desire to see for myself the astonishing change and progress of a quarter of a century over there, to grasp the hands of many faithful friends whom I left upon those shores, to see the faces of a multitude of new friends upon whom I have never looked, and last, not least, to use my best endeavor to lay down a third cable of intercommunication and alliance between the old world and the new.” Dickens was overwhelmed by the occasion, writing to his friend Harry Wills the following day: “When I got up to speak, but for taking a desperate hold of myself, I should have lost my sight and voice and sat down again.” A near-fine artifact of the Victorian literary scene.