Reading is the county town of Berkshire, England, located 37 miles (60 km) west of London. It is in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway. Charles Dickens has a number of connections with the town including being asked to represent it as a Member of Parliament.
Thomas Noon Talfourd (1795 – 1854) was an English judge, politician and author who was elected as Member of Parliament for Reading in the 1835 general election. He was voted in again just two years later when another general election was triggered by the death of King William IV. However, Talfourd chose not to stand at the subsequent election of 1841. Talfourd was a close friend of Charles Dickens after he helped the author in copyright battles. In return, Dickens dedicated his novel The Pickwick Papers to Talfourd. Talfourd introduced a copyright bill in 1837, but after a series of set-backs had to re-introduce it until it was finally adopted in law by 1842.
In 1841, one of the most prominent booksellers in Reading, George Lovejoy, wrote to Charles Dickens asking him if he would consider standing as the Member of Parliament for the town. Dickens