THE CHARLES DICKENS STORY



 

Image © Colin Axon 2003
Catherine Thomson Hogarth


Mary Scott Hogarth


Georgina Hogarth

 

THE HOME TEAM

George Hogarth (son of Robert Hogarth, Tenant in Carfrae, by his wife Mary Scott) was born 6 September 1783.  There is a rather poor quality picture of him here.  He became Writer to the Signet (W.S.) in Edinburgh, was a distinguished music critic and author (he wrote Beethoven's biography), and later became editor of The Evening Chronicle in London.  On 1 June 1814 he married Georgina [1793 - 5 Aug 1863] the daughter of George Thomson, also a distinguished writer.  George Hogarth died 12 February 1870.  Their children, mostly born in Edinburgh, were:

Catherine Thomson Hogarth [19 May 1815 - 22 Nov 1879].
Robert Hogarth [10 Sep 1816 - 1843] Settled in Jamaica.
Mary Scott Hogarth [circa 1817] Died in infancy.
Mary Scott Hogarth [26 Oct 1819 - 7 May 1837].
George Thomson Hogarth [26 Apr 1821 - 4 Oct 1841].
William Thomson Hogarth [11 Jan 1823 - ?].
James Ballantyne Hogarth [1825 - 1876].
Georgina Hogarth [22 Jan 1827 - 17 Apr 1917].
Edward Norris Hogarth, [1833 - 1879] who was the twin of:
Helen Isabella Hogarth [1833 - 1 Dec 1890].


THE STORY UNFOLDS...

May 1835:
Charles Dickens becomes engaged to 19 year old Catherine Hogarth, eldest daughter of his editor friend George Hogarth.

Dickens subsequently lodges in Selwood Terrace, a short walk from the Hogarth home, to be closer to Catherine. For six months he paid rent here, as well as at Furnival's Inn.
 

February 1836:
A few days after his 24th birthday, Dickens starts work on the serialisation, in twenty installments, of 'The Pickwick Papers'.  Before the end of March 1836, he had written 24,000 words, enough for the first two installments, for which he receives twenty-nine pounds in payment.  This money enables him to marry Catherine.
 

April 2, 1836:
Catherine Thomson Hogarth and Charles John Huffam Dickens marry at St. Luke's in Chelsea. They honeymoon for a week, in a small cottage in Chalk.  When they return from their honeymoon, Catherine's sister Mary Hogarth moves into Furnival's Inn, at Holborn, with them.

Later that same month, the first installment of 'The Pickwick Papers' goes on sale.  It is sold at the price of one shilling per copy, and proves very popular, despite the advice of friends who warned him that this method of publication was not worthy of a 'respectable' author.

Dickens' new found prosperity later enables them to leave their rather cramped chambers at Furnival's Inn.
 

January 6, 1837:
Charles & Catherine's first child, Charles Culliford Boz, is born.  Over the next fifteen years they were eventually to have nine more children, who were usually christened with the names of writers that Dickens admired.  Known as Charley within the family, Charles junior married one Bessie Evans, even though their two dads didn't quite see eye-to-eye.  Having pursued a career in banking, Charley went into bankruptcy in 1868, but was then hired by Charles senior to work at All The Year Round.  After his father died, Charley bought Gad's Hill Place, eventually having to give it up because of illness.
 

March 25, 1837:
The Dickens family moves into 48 Doughty Street, London, on which Charles takes a three year lease at £80 a year.

"It was a pleasant twelve-room dwelling of pink brick, with three stories and an attic, a white arched entrance door on the street level, and a small private garden in the rear. It was located just north of Gray's Inn ... a genteel private street with a lodge at each end and gates that were closed at night by a porter in a gold-laced hat and a mulberry-colored coat with the Doughty arms on its buttons."

Dickens brought with him not only his wife Catherine, but also her 17 year old sister, Mary Scott Hogarth, of whom he was inordinately fond.  Mary had also lived with them previously at Furnival's Inn.  Charles' younger brother Frederick also joined them here.
 

May 7, 1837:
After a visit to the theatre on Saturday evening, Mary is taken ill just after midnight. She died later in Charles' arms, just seventeen years old. Medical opinion believes the cause of death to be a heart condition.  It is said that, in his grief Charles removed a ring from her finger, placed it on his own, and would wear it for the rest of his life.  It is also reported that he was greatly affected by the sadness of her loss for many years afterwards.  Catherine, then pregnant, suffered a miscarriage due to the shock of her sister's death.  Mary's grave is in Kensal Green cemetary, London.  Later, other family members would also be laid to rest in this grave.

The family lived in Doughty Street between March 1837 and December 1839. It is the only one of their London residences which still survives.

The house came under threat of demolition in 1923, but was saved by the Dickens Fellowship (founded 1902), who raised the mortgage and bought the freehold.  The whole building was renovated, the mortgage repaid, and the Dickens House Museum was opened in 1925, under the direction of an independent trust established by the fellowship.  It remains today, the worldwide headquarters of the Dickens Fellowship.

The room in which Mary Hogarth died has been restored, as have others.  One of the few surviving letters in her hand may be seen here, describing a visit to Dickens and her sister at Furnival's Inn. Above it hangs a copy, by FG Kitton, of HK Brown's posthumous portrait of Mary, painted from memory.  That picture is reproduced above.

Although the period of time they lived at Doughty Street was relatively short compared with their residency at other addresses, Dickens published or wrote some of his most famous works there, including the completion of The Pickwick Papers series, also writing Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.
 

March 6, 1838:
Their second child, Mary Angela 'Mamie' (d.1896) is born.  Mary was named after her mother's sister who had died the year before. After her father died in 1870 she went to live with Georgina and was to write the book entitled "My Father as I Recall Him".  The memorial to the ten Dickens children, next to their mother's grave in Highgate Cemetery, claims that Mary was "buried at Sevenoaks, aged 57."  However, whilst her sister Kate is in the graveyard of St. Nicholas's Church there, there is no mention in the parish records of Mary.
 

October 29, 1839:
Dickens' family expands with his fame and Kate Macready Dickens (d.1929) is born.  Known as "The Lucifer Box" within the family because of her fiery nature, Kate was apparently the only child to side with Catherine when her parents separated.  She would later marry Charles Allston Collins, the brother of author Wilkie Collins.  (See pages 95-97 of The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins by William M Clarke. ISBN 085031 960 9).  Then, after her first husband died, she married one Carlo Perugini.

After Kate's birth, Dickens began to look for roomier accommodation, which by now he could easily afford.  This was to be 1 Devonshire Terrace, Regents Park, to which the family moved at the end of 1839.  It was demolished in 1959.

February 8, 1841:
A fourth child, Walter Landor, is born.  Walter achieved the rank of lieutenant in the East India Company, but was plagued by debt which was compounded by illness.  He died in 1863 of an aortic aneurysm, leaving his father to settle a good many unpaid bills.
 

October 24, 1841:
Catherine's brother, George Hogarth, dies, aged 20.
 

January 15, 1844:
A fifth child, Francis Jeffrey, is born.  After trying his hand at a number of occupations including medicine, farming and journalism, he joined the Bengal Mounted Police, then later, the Northwest Mounted Police in Canada.  In 1886 he resigned his commission and died soon afterwards.
 

October 28, 1845:
A sixth child, Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson (d.1912), is born.  This one emigrated to Australia at the age of 20 (leaving a trail of unpaid bills behind him) and married Jessie Devlin, a.k.a. the Belle of Melbourne.  However, Jessie was to die in a carriage accident just four years later, leaving Alfred to raise their two daughters on his own.  After his father's death, Alfred lectured on the life and work of Charles Dickens.
 

April 18, 1847:
A seventh child, Sydney Smith Haldimand (d.1872), is born.
 

January 15, 1849:
An eighth child, Henry Fielding (d.1933), is born.
 

August 16, 1850:
A ninth child, Dora Annie, is born.
 

April 14, 1851:
Dora Annie, still an infant, dies.
 

March 13, 1852:
Their tenth child, Edward Bulwer-Lytton (d.1902), is born.
 

1856:
Dickens purchases Gad's Hill Place, an estate he had first admired as a child.
 

1857:
Dickens embarks on an affair with Ellen Lawless Ternan, a young actress. It is said that this affair, which lasted until his death, had several influences on his work.
 

June 1858:
Catherine and Charles Dickens are legally seperated.
 

August 5, 1863:
Catherine's mother, Georgina Hogarth dies, aged 69.
 

February 12, 1870:
Catherine's father, George Hogarth dies, aged 87.
 

June 8, 1870:
Charles Dickens dies from a stroke, at his home at Gad's Hill Place.  He was 58.
 

1876:
James Ballantyne Hogarth dies.
 

November 22, 1879:
Catherine, aged 64, dies and was laid to rest in Highgate West cemetery with her daughter, Dora.
 

December 1, 1890:
Helen Isabella Roney (née Hogarth), twin of Edward Hogarth and wife of Richard Roney, dies, aged 57. She was survived by a daughter.
 

1896:
Charles Culliford Boz Dickens dies.  Mamie dies.

April 19, 1917:
Georgina dies, aged 90.  For nearly thirty years she had devoted herself to Dickens and his family, having become a permanent member of the household when only fifteen.  She kept everything running after Charles and Catherine separated.  For the final twelve years of Dickens's life Georgina ran the household at Gadīs Hill and was at his side when he died in 1870.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The unique Daguerreotype image of an aging Kate Hogarth, at the top of this page, was kindly contributed by Colin Axon who also owns a number of similar Dickens-related photographs.  Please note that Colin is the copyright holder and reserves all rights relating to the use of this image.

   
Meet Charles & Catherine's children.
View the Hogarths' gravestone.