A signed character reference written by Charles Dickens in 1852 is among the highlights of an autograph auction at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury.
The lot relates to Georgiana Morson, the matron of a home for "fallen women" which Dickens founded in 1847. It's a glowing description of her abilities, which reads in part: "I have invariably found that those under her care become attached to her".
The term "fallen women" referred to women living in poverty, many of who were forced to turn to prostitution.
Dickens was a progressive - with the result that the home (Urania Cottage in Shepherd's Bush, London) was a markedly more pleasant place than most charitable lodgings of the time.
The atmosphere was supportive and the women were treated with dignity. There was a garden and a piano, which the residents were encouraged to use.
Those living there were taught skills to enable them to find employment and live independently when they left.
Dickens had spent time in the poor house in his childhood and knew the cycle of suffering that poverty engendered.
In her book on Urania, author Jenny Hartley explains that Morson "had the warmth he wanted so much at Urania […] she was kind, friendly, motherly. She immediately took to the girls and they took to her in return…the girls wept with her when they left."
Fortunately for Dickens, Morson failed to get the job. She stayed on at Urania Cottage for a further two years. The letter is expected to make £3,000-5,000 ($4,521-7,535).