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Huntington Library buys Charles Dickens letters

January 27, 2010

Dickens at Huntington

In a bit of news that may elicit a chorus of "Bah, humbug!" from disappointed rival collectors, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens said Tuesday it has acquired a cache of 35 letters that Charles Dickens wrote from about 1838 to 1869.

Highlights, the San Marino museum said, include missives to Dickens' best-known illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne (a.k.a. "Phiz"), and to poet Robert Lytton. Among the letters are Dickens' instructions to Browne about how a scene in a women's hat shop in "Nicholas Nickleby" should look.

The letters, bought for an undisclosed sum from a New York City rare book and manuscript dealer who had acquired them over many years for his personal collection, extend Huntington holdings that had already encompassed about 1,000 letters by Dickens, as well as the originals of 49 drawings Browne made for "Nicholas Nickleby."

-- Mike Boehm ABBA dances into London

ABBA, the spangly Swedish quartet that gave the world "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen," has sold 400 million records since its 1970s heyday and spawned the hugely successful stage and film musical "Mamma Mia!"

And now there's ABBAWORLD -- a new museum-cum-theme park in London with enough music, mementos and memory-lane appeal to satisfy even the most fervent ABBA fan.

ABBAWORLD's Swedish organizers promise the exhibition -- which opens to the public today -- will be "a place for total interaction" with the band. It tells the group's story in 25 rooms spread over 30,000 square feet.

-- associated press Art donation benefits Cuba

A Swiss art collector has donated nine works by major artists to Cuba's National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuban media reported Tuesday.

Gilbert Brownstone plans to donate a total of 120 works of art to Cuba and has dedicated the donation to five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States for their role in the 1996 shooting down of two planes piloted by anti-Castro Cuban exiles, Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

The nine works are by Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro, Roy Lichtenstein and Andre Masson, Granma said.

Brownstone is a gallery owner and former curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

-- reuters It's Hallmark for Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart doesn't quite have her own television network like Oprah Winfrey, but the Hallmark Channel is giving the household style maven control over a chunk of its daytime lineup.

Stewart's weekday program, currently syndicated to various broadcast channels across the country, will move to the Hallmark Channel in September, the network and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. announced on Tuesday.

"The Martha Stewart Show," starting its sixth season this fall, will air at 10 a.m. each weekday. The show will be rerun each day at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., and Stewart's production company will be responsible for 90 minutes of additional programming that will air following the first run of her show.

-- associated press Poet wins Costa book award

Poet Christopher Reid was awarded Britain's Costa Book of the Year Award on Tuesday with a poetry collection written in tribute to his late wife.

Reid's "A Scattering" -- inspired by his wife's death from cancer in 2005 -- beat four other finalists to the $48,426 prize, which aims to reward the most enjoyable book in the last year by writers based in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

-- associated press Hopper's wife seeks custody

Dennis Hopper's wife states in a court declaration that she believes the actor is divorcing her because of his declining health and influence from others.

Victoria Hopper wrote that her husband's medical and mental state have become unpredictable as he battles prostate cancer, according to the documents filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The 42-year-old is seeking full custody of the couple's 6-year-old daughter. She is also asking a judge to allow Dennis Hopper supervised visits with his daughter for up to an hour a day, depending on his health. Her filing seeks strict guidelines, including a requirement that Hopper remove all guns from the family's house and refrain from smoking medicinal marijuana before the visits.

Hopper's manager did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

-- associated press

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