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A jeu d’esprit in the voice of Martin Chuzzlewit’s drunken nurse, it had been written to raise £100 for a benefit fund in aid of a fellow writer, Leigh Hunt.

The tale of ‘Mrs Gamp…’ is in effect a series of humorous caricatures of Dickens’ friends, among them George Cruikshank, John Leech, Mark Lemon, Douglas Jerrold and August Egg.

Plans to produce it as an illustrated pamphlet were eventually abandoned, but in recent times it has been included as a short story in the definitive Clarendon Press edition of The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit.

The auction took place on July 11.

Dreary December

Sold for a far higher than predicted £19,000 by Christie’s (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) on July 12 was an 1817 manuscript of John Keats’ poem ‘In Drear Nighted December’.

The saleroom explained that the manuscript, long thought to be in the poet’s hand, has since been identified as being in that of John Hamilton Reynolds.

The latter was a close friend whose handwriting certainly resembled that of Keats, but the manuscript is now valued as one preserving a number of textual variants and as a lost source for the poem.