Think Charles Dickens and you picture that scraggly beard, stroked to within an inch of its life, presumably from musing over the daftest name for his next character.
But the great author was also fond of sporting a pair of 'taches — and there's a very rare photograph to prove it.
The profile portrait (see above and below) was taken by John Jabez Edwin Mayall at his 224 Regent Street studio, around 1852-55. At the time, Dickens would have been in the throes of writing Bleak House or Hard Times, and the image is so sharp, you can almost see the cogs whirring behind his eyes.
It's a 'crayon daguerreotype' — a method whereby the centre of the image was covered with blackened zinc; then the whole image was exposed to light, wiping out all details except those protected by the zinc.
The picture has been in a private collection for 20 years, but has now been loaned to the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury, where it's on show till 31 March.
This wasn't Dickens' first experiment growing a moustache; in 1844, he wrote a letter to his friend, artist Daniel Maclise, saying: "The moustaches are glorious, glorious. I have cut them shorter, and trimmed them a little at the ends to improve their shape. They are charming, charming. Without them, life would be a blank."
Emily Smith, curator at the Charles Dickens Museum, said, "A moustachioed Dickens is hard to find! While his bearded visage is instantly recognisable, Dickens's early experiments with face furniture are far less well recorded... Dickens was image-conscious, definitely a dandy."
The acquisition means the museum now (temporarily) owns a triumvirate of Dickens' facial hair pictures: the classic beard, the dandy moustache, and his clean-shaven period, as seen in this long-lost portrait from his younger days.