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1st June - 25 August 1770

Age 17,  (he won't reach 18)

39, Brooke Street

Chatterton moved from the lack of privacy of Shoreditch, to his own attic room in the house of Mrs Angel, a saque or mantua maker. Mrs Angel's house was in Brooke Street, but there has been confusion over the actual house number, so, which house did he actually live in? 


The 1842 edition of Chatterton's Life and Works, has it as number 4, which Meyerstein states to be the route of the confusion and, in his own book, A Life of Thomas Chatterton, 1930, he uses the researches of Moy Thomas (see below), to show that it was actually number 39. 


Masson's 1856 essay, 'Chatterton: A story of the Year 1770,' also has it as number 4.  Masson must have been shocked when in a magazine, 'The Train,' dated 1858, a writer demolishes some of his claims and states that the house was actually number 39.  It took Masson until 1874 to publish his 'Chatterton: A Story of the Year 1770,' as a stand alone book, where he corrects his errors.


The British Museum has a drawing by John Wykeham Archer, which dates to around 1825/30. Archer states the house to be No.4, and that Chatterton died in the garret (attic room) top left of the image. The curator at the BM corrects this, stating that No. 39, on the opposite side of the road, is where Chatterton lived and died

Moy Thomas, with some clever detective work, finally resolved the tricky question of the location and number of the house, and shows it to be No. 39.  He also clearly shows that the coroners report created by Dix is a forgery.  See his detailed letter covering both subjects, in the:  Athenaeum, December 1857.

Nothing remains of the house in Brooke Street, so it hardly matters which house it was, apart from helping to determine which sources a particular editor has used in the production of his/her work.

The exact date Chatterton moved to Holborn is not known, but I have settled on June 1st as  his first day, based on the following: his letter to his mother dated the 14th May, states 'Direct for me, at Mr. Walmsley's, at Shoreditch - only, so at that point in time he had no plans to be anywhere else; The Death of Nicou, was dated Brooke-Street, 12th June, so a date in-between the two dates seems reasonable enough.

Chatterton, now in number 39, Brooke Street, can control what his family in Bristol might be told about his situation, nobody can belie him now - however, at this point he has just 12 weeks and 1 day to live.

It is said that Brooke Street was a somewhat sleazy and run-down area, but at last Chatterton had the privacy he craved; the privacy he needed to put pen to paper and bring to light the works that were filling his head.

Chatterton's VI, A Hunter of Oddities
Hunter of Oddities.jpg

Part of letter VI from A Hunter of Oddities

One of Chatterton's earliest works while in Brooke Street, was his  article Letter VI from A Hunter of Oddities, which appeared in the Town & Country Magazine, June 1770  :  View

It is reminiscent of part of the delightfully funny Anecdote of the life of Samuel Derrick, wherein Samuel challenges someone to a duel. It is followed by his mock Last Will and Testament. It appears in the Town and Country magazine for 1769 :  View    (This link takes you to Chatterton's Mock Will page, you must then click Samuel's Mock Will link.)

Links to Chatterton's Works & Correspondence

   Call it what you will, authentic, doubtful, lost, or plainly wrong - if it was linked with Chatterton it will be included in Chatterton's Works & Correspondence.  This will be the base point from which we can examine every piece of work, and add notes and links accordingly.  

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