An original handwritten page of 'The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club' offered by London dealer Peter Harrington at £97,500.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

However, Charles Hicks (c.1799-1870), the foreman-printer for Bradbury and Evans, famously salvaged a group of 33 slips from the original manuscript for Pickwick Papers.

The novel, issued monthly between April 1836 and November 1837, transformed an obscure 25-year-old journalist into England’s most famous author in a matter of months.

Although later in life Dickens did try to retrieve some of his earlier work, these leaves were held by Hicks’ family until their sale in 1882. They reappeared as part of a group of 12 consecutively numbered leaves in the Comte Alain de Suzannet sale in 1971 – the last occasion on which significant manuscripts of Dickens’ works were offered at auction.

This page, formerly owned by Ohio collector Kenyon Starling, is one of only five leaves from the Pickwick manuscript remaining in private hands. Forming part of chapter 37, the text, including a number of corrections by Dickens as he edits his work, is a comic scene involving favourite Cockney character Sam Weller during a visit to Bath spa.