London, May 26 : He may have written the most fascinating fairy tales, but Hans Christian Andersen was the houseguest from hell for Charles Dickens.
The episode has come to light through an inscribed volume that will appear at the London Antiquarian Book Fair at Olympia next month.
The Danish author first visited England in June 1847, where he was a guest of the Countess of Blessington. At one of her gatherings, he was introduced to his idol Dickens.
A friendship soon grew between the two writers, and in the summer of 1857, Andersen returned to England to spend a fortnight with Dickens as his guest at Gad's Hill, assuring Dickens in a letter: "I shall not inconvenience you too much."
However, this was one promise that Anderson failed to keep, reports Times Online.
He not only extended his visit to five weeks, but also strained Dickens' patience so much that the English author's daughter nicknamed the tall, gaunt Andersen the 'bony bore' and later 'a social blockhead'.
When he finally left, Dickens wrote on the mirror in the guestroom: "Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks - which seemed to the family AGES!"
David Brass, a Californian antiquarian dealer, who is bringing the volume to the Olympia Book Fair, said that to Andersen however, the experience was vastly different.
"To Andersen, the visit was a timeless Elysium, a holiday, a fairytale come true," Mr Brass said.
He added: "This is the greatest Dickens discovery since I've been in the rare book business, over 40 years. It is a legendary literary artefact. I feel like Indiana Jones. It's like finding the Lost Ark but without the curse, aggravation and people trying to kill you."
The book, a copy of Pictures from Italy, 1846, is inscribed by Dickens in ink: "Hans Christian Andersen / From His friend and admirer / Charles Dickens / London Jul. 1847." It is valued about 75,000 pounds.