Young, Pleasant, Cheerful, Tidy, Bustling, Quiet

Dinah Birch

  • The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth by Lillian Nayder
    Cornell, 359 pp, £22.95, December 2010, ISBN 978 0 8014 4787 7

‘My father was a wicked man – a very wicked man,’ Charles Dickens’s daughter Kate Perugini wrote. ‘My father did not understand women.’ Yet he was never simply a chauvinist. Though he would not acknowledge women’s independence, he recognised their ambitions outside the home. He admired his musical sister Fanny, and was drawn to Nelly Ternan, who became his mistress, partly because of her talents on the stage. He worked closely with Elizabeth Gaskell and the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts. The distress of abused and vulnerable women moved him to pity, and he made energetic attempts to lift prostitutes out of wretchedness, with Burdett-Coutts’s help. He couldn’t tolerate women defying his authority, but he was bored by women who were easily controlled.

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