A RARE edition of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby has been given to the Counting House in Malton.

Business owner Jacques Tinkler, of No. 7 Antiques in the Shambles, has offered the Charles Dickens (Malton) Society the 1856 edition of the novel on long-term loan for display to the public.

Brian Oxberry, from the society, said they were delighted to have been loaned the copy of Nicholas Nickleby published by Chapman and Hall.

"Considering it is 160 years old it is in excellent condition," he said.

"The novel has a special relevance for Malton as Charles Smithson, who had been a solicitor in London before he came back to Malton, wrote a special letter for Dickens enabling him to travel to Barnard Castle anonymously to visit the appalling schools in the area.

"Some of the teachers couldn't even sign their names to receive their pay and signed with an x. As a result of Nicholas Nickleby many of these terrible schools were closed."

Jacques, who also runs Codex Books, an antiquarian and secondhand book business on the internet, said he had bought the book through Boulton and Cooper a couple of years ago.

"It's a very early Nicholas Nickleby published by Chapman and Hall in 1836 with illustrations by Phiz," he said.

"I've given this to the Dickens Museum because I'm a great believer in supporting activities that benefit the local community and think this will be an additional drawer for the museum, which will - I hope - benefit Malton as a whole with more people coming into the town."