A fresh insight into the shadowy world of Charles Dickens was revealed today when a cache of documents was discovered hidden inside an old writing desk that had come up for auction at Sotheby's.
It was known that Dickens had written several sex stories that were to be read only after his death. However at the time of his death in 1870, an extensive search of the study at his London home, Gad's Hill Place was carried out, but the documents were never found. The last thoughts of the literary genius have thus remained secret - until now.
An exciting find amongst these documents was a testimonial written by the great man thanking the editorial staff of 'Ye Olde London Spoofe' for giving him the inspiration to become a writer and for providing him with the springboard from which to launch his career. The story behind Dickens's association with the satirical Victorian periodical' from which the present 'Spoof' descended, is as mysterious as any of the novels he penned.
Apparently, during his childhood, he had been forced to work in appalling conditions in a 'blacking factory', where his job was to wrap newspaper round the finished containers. Legend has it that a witty story in one of the newspapers caught his eye. The Newspaper was the 'Ye Olde London Spoofe' and the rest as they say is history.
Speaking from 'The Spoof' headquarters in the beautiful Lake District, Mark Lowton, the present co-managing director expressed his delight with this connection with the past.
'The Spoof has always encouraged fresh talent', he said.
'Dickens was one of our earliest writers, although it has got to be said that a lot of his sex stories were probably copied from other stories that he had read in our publication.'
'Plagiarism was as common then as it is with present day students who download other people's work off the internet and claim it for there own,' he explained.
'The similarity between Dickens's stories and others is obvious when one trawls through 'The Spoofs' archives, he intimated.
'Who could deny that Dickens's publication, 'A Christms Carol,' is remarkably similar to 'The Spoof' writer Bob Muppet's haunting tale of 'Jimi Hendrix's ghost lives inside my granddad's hearing aid?'.
-------Or that 'Great Expectations,' is not an audacious copy of Mark Lowton's literary masterpiece, 'Bush loses house?'
But whatever the controversy concerning the origin of Dickens's works, there can be no doubt that like so many of today's literary genius's, he owes his success to 'The Spoof.'