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14 Aug

Chapter XX

Dickens had not changed much. In common with MacBeth he was possessed of a vaulting ambition, and although by nature still taciturn, he remained remarkably confident in his own talent. I envied his self-assurance. However well I was doing, I never felt the like, and was confident only in the coming of the next personal catastrophe. I learned later that he was not so different regarding many areas of his life, only he hid it better than I; but in his own faith in his abilities as a writer he was always supremely secure, and with good reason. He really was quite brilliant. I suppose I should have viewed him as a rival, but I was doing...
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31 Jul

Chapter XVIII

Already being in possession of a husband and a good fortune, and what with the fashionable summer season drawing to a close, Mrs. Garwood decided that what she was most in want of was culture, in the form of a personal tutor, an expert, she said, in literary history and composition, someone, in fact, very much like me. Now, never let it be said that I do not know an invitation when I hear one. Her husband was happy to consent, and I was engaged, on two hundred pounds a year no less, to minister to all of Mrs. Garwood’s creative needs, of which she apparently had many. In light of recent events, which were polarised and extreme,...
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24 Jul

Chapter XVII

Money
In the long summer of 1834, I became the success story of the season, at least in literary terms, leaving poor old Ainsworth behind in the end, for his family soon spoiled his fun. But I was yet young, and unblessed by either wife or children as far as I knew. I would like to claim that it was the quality of my work that caused my star to rise so far and so fast, but the truth, at least in part, was that the public enthusiasm for Ainsworth and myself was more of an indication of the state of English letters in those days, in particular the yawning void left by Walter Scott, who had died...
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