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All the Year Round   Volume IV  

The early autumn of 1860 brought significant changes in Dickens’s life. With the sale of Tavistock House complete by the end of August, Dickens was ready to leave his former London home and settle at Gad’s Hill Place, Rochester. From October onwards, this ‘little Freehold’ property, acquired five years ago as a summer retreat (Letters, VII, p. 532), became his permanent residence until his death in June 1870. [1] Bringing a friend up to date, Dickens described how, having sold Tavistock House, he was ‘making this rather complete in its way, and am on the restless eve of beginning a new big [i.e. monthly] book’ (Letters, IX, p. 309). Other projects included preparations for the next Christmas Number of All the Year Round, a charitable reading at the Rochester and Chatham Mechanics’ Institute in December and six public readings in St Martin’s Hall, London, scheduled for the Spring of 1861. In November he travelled to north Devon with Wilkie Collins to gather material for the Christmas story that became 'A Message from the Sea' (p. 573), and then remained at Gad’s Hill for the remainder of the year. By mid-February 1861, he was established in ‘a furnished house’ at 3 Hanover Terrace, Regent’s Park, taken for "the season"’ (Letters, IX, p. 360). This served as his London base until mid-June from which he continued writing and preparing for the Spring public readings.

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