This final volume presents 1,151 letters, many previously unpublished or published only in part, for the years 1868 to Dickens's death from a stroke on 9 June 1870; also included is an Addenda of 235 letters belonging to earlier volumes, discovered since the publication of the first such collection in Volume 7, and a Cumulative Index of Correspondents for the entire edition. The volume begins with the final four months of Dickens's American tour of 75 readings, which had been conspicuously successful throughout, despite the appalling weather and his sufferings from "American" catarrh. The tour culminated on 18 April 1868 when the American Press held a dinner in his honour in New York. In July he rented Windsor Lodge, Peckham for Ellen Ternan, where she remained until after his death; he was to give two more English reading tours before his collapse at Preston on 22 April 1869. In early January 1869 he was elected President of the Birmingham and Midland Institute; and a dinner in his honour was given in St George's Hall, Liverpool. Between January and March 1870 he gave a series of Farewell readings in London, and on 31 March Edwin Drood, No. 1 was published, illustrated by Luke Fildes; it continued monthly until 31 August. Of the friends who died during this period, much the closest were the painter Daniel Maclise, to whom Dickens paid especial tribute at the Royal Academy Banquet of 30 April 1870; Mark Lemon, who died only 18 days before Dickens himself, and with whom he had a brief reconciliation after their bitter quarrel in 1858; and Chauncy Hare Townshend, who left him £2,000 to publish, as his Literary Executor, Religious Opinions of the Late Chauncy Hare Townshend, which appeared in November 1870.
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