(1785-1851) - Dickens'
father, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. In 1809 he married Elizabeth
Barrow with whom he had eight children. John loved to live the good
life but was frequently unable to pay for it. He was imprisoned for debt
in 1824 in the Marshalsea Debtor's Prison. After his release from prison
he returned to the Navy Pay Office, retired, and later worked as a reporter.
His money problems continued and when Charles gained fame as a writer he
frequently embarrassed his son by seeking loans from Charles' friends and
publishers behind his back. Charles retained a warm affection for his father
while deploring his inability to manage money. John was the source of Charles'
character Mr. Micawber in the autobiographical novel, David Copperfield.
As a child Dickens would walk with his father
by Gad's Hill Place, a large impressive mansion outside Rochester.
His father told him that with perseverance and hard work he could
live in such a house.
Thirty-six years later, in 1856, Dickens bought it.
(1789-1863) - Dickens' mother, married John
Dickens in 1809. Charles was the second of their eight children. Charles
was taken from school to work at Warren's Blacking Factory to help support
the family during John's imprisonment for debt.
When John was released and a quarrel with Charles'
employer resulted in Charles being removed from the blacking factory, his
mother tried, unsuccessfully, to patch things up and have Charles return
to work. For the rest of his life Charles never forgave her. Charles used
her as the source of Mrs. Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby.
(August 1810-September 2, 1848) Dickens oldest sister with whom he was very close in childhood. She was a talented woman and studied music at the Royal Academy of Music. Fanny married Henry Burnett and had a crippled son, Henry Jr, whom Dickens used as a model for both Paul Dombey and Tiny Tim. Fanny died of consumption at age 38.
Read a letter Dickens wrote to his friend, John Forster, describing a visit to see his terminally ill sister.
(March 28, 1814-September 1814) Dickens' younger brother who died in infancy.
(April 1816-1893) Dickens' younger sister, Letitia married architect and artist Henry Austin in 1837. When Henry died in 1862 Charles secured a government pension for Letitia.
(1819-?) Dickens' sister who died in childhood.
(August 1820-October 20, 1868) Dickens' younger brother who lived with Charles when he moved to Furnival's Inn in 1834 and during the early years of Dickens' marriage to Catherine. Frederick married and fell into debt, using his famous brother's name to obtain credit. Fred was later imprisoned for debt and spent the last years of his life an alcoholic. When he died at age 48 Charles lamented Fred's "wasted life."
(March 1822-July 1860) Dickens' younger brother, a civil engineer and sanitary inspector. When Alfred died in 1860 Charles helped support his family.
(1827-October 4, 1866) Dickens' youngest brother. Dickens helped Augustus get a job with a shipping merchant in London. Augustus' wife became blind and he left her and went to America with another woman with whom he lived as man and wife. He died at age 39 in Chicago and Charles gave support to both wives. Augustus is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago IL.
Back to Top
(1815-1879) - Dickens' wife, with whom
he fathered 10 children. She was born in Scotland on May 19, 1815
and came to England with her family in 1834. Catherine was the daughter
of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening
Chronicle where Dickens was a young journalist. They were married
on April 2, 1836 in St. Luke's Church, Chelsea and honeymooned in
Chalk, near Chatham. Dickens found Catherine an increasingly incompetent
mother and housekeeper and seemed to blame her for the birth of their
10 children. Their separation, in 1858, was much publicized and rumors
of Dickens unfaithfulness abounded, which he vehemently denied in
public. Dickens and Catherine had little correspondence after the
break, Catherine moving to a house in London with oldest son, Charley,
and Dickens retreating to Gad's Hill in Kent with Catherine's sister,
Georgina, and all of the children
except Charlie remaining with him. On her deathbed in 1879 she gave
her collection of Dickens' letters to daughter Kate
instructing her to "Give these to the British Museum, that the world
may know he loved me once."
Read a letter from Dickens to John Forster concerning separation from Catherine.
The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth by Lillian Nayder
Back to Top
(1837-1896) - Dickens' first child,
educated at Eton and studied business in Germany. Charley was the only child
who lived with his mother after Dickens' separation with Catherine
in 1858. In 1862 he married Bessie Evans, daughter of Dickens' former publisher,
Frederick Evans, with whom Dickens had had a falling
out. After a failed business venture, Dickens hired Charley as sub-editor
of All the Year Round.
(1838-1896) - Dickens' second child, named for
Mary Hogarth. She never married and remained
with Dickens until his death. She published a book of memoirs, My Father
as I Recall Him.
(1839-1929) Dickens' third child, named
for Dickens' friend actor William Macready. She
had a talent for art and attended Bedford college. She sided with her mother
in the separation of her parents and married artist Charles Collins, brother
of Dickens friend Wilkie Collins. Dickens felt she
married to get out of the home after the separation. When Collins, sickly
for years, died she married artist Carlo Perugini. She later revealed her
father's relationship with Ellen Ternan in Gladys
Storey's book Dickens and Daughter.
(1841-1863) - Dickens' fourth child named
for English poet Walter Savage Landor. He was nominated for a cadetship
in the East India Company and went to India in 1857 where he advanced to
the rank of lieutenant in the 42nd Highlanders. He inherited his grandfather's
problems with money and got into debt. He died of an aortic aneurysm in
Calcutta, his debts sent home to his father.
(1844-1886) - Dickens' fifth child named for Dickens friend Lord Francis
Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review. He went to India in 1864
where he found his brother Walter had been
dead a month. He joined the Bengal Mounted Police, returned to England in
1871,the year after his father's death. He squandered his inheritance and
later went to Canada where he joined the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police.
He died in Moline, Illinois.
(1845-1912) - Dickens' sixth child named
for French artist Count Alfred D'Orsay and English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
He emigrated to Australia in 1865 where he remained for 45 years. Later
he lectured on his father's life and works in England and America, dying
in New York on a lecture tour.
(1847-1872) - Dickens' seventh child
embarked on a career with the navy which pleased his father very much. He
got into debt, asking his father for financial aid which Dickens finally
refused. He died at sea aboard the Malta.
- Dickens' eighth child named for English author Henry Fielding. Henry was
the most successful of Dickens children. Educated at Cambridge, he became
a lawyer, judge, and was knighted in 1922. Later he performed readings of
his father's works and published books on Dickens' life.
(1850-1851) - Dickens' ninth child was born during
the writing of David Copperfield and was named for David's wife. A sickly
child, she died at eight months old.
(1852-1902) - Dickens' 10th child
and named for English Novelist and Dickens' friend Edward
Bulwer-Lytton. He joined his brother Alfred
in Australia at 16 years of age. He became a Member of Parliament in New
South Wales, never returning to England.
Back to Top
(1819-1837) - Catherine's
sister moved into the Dickens household in 1836, shortly after the marriage.
At 17 she took ill after attending the theater and died suddenly in Dickens'
arms. Dickens was shattered and took a ring from her finger which he wore
the rest of his life. She was the model for Little Nell in The Old Curiosity
Shop. Dickens wrote the epitaph which appears on her gravestone: "Young,
beautiful, and good, God numbered her among his angels at the early age
(1827-1917) - Catherine's
sister joined the Dickens household in 1844 helping to run the household
and raise the children. She remained with Dickens after the breakup of his
marriage in 1858 prompting scandalous rumors. After Dickens' death in 1870
she remained devoted to his children and worked to retain the integrity
of Dickens' reputation.
Back to Top
(1805-1882) English novelist (Rookwood,
Jack Sheppard) and influence on young Dickens. Ainsworth brought Dickens
into his literary circle that included Forster, Thackeray,
(1805-1875) Danish writer and author of
Fairy Tales. Dickens and Andersen admired each others work. Andersen
visited Dickens at Gad's Hill in 1857 and overstayed his welcome (he was
there for 5 weeks) after which the friendship waned. Dickens' daughter Kate
later wrote that Andersen was "a bony bore and stayed on and on."
(1810-1886) Youngest daughter of a London banker. Dickens
fell in love with Maria in 1829 and courted her unsuccessfully for 4 years
as Maria's parents objected to the relationship. In 1855 Maria, now Mrs
Henry Winter, contacted Dickens and his infatuation with Maria was briefly
rekindled...until they met and he saw that the matronly Mrs Winter was not
the Maria of his imagination. Dickens based Dora Spenlow (David
Copperfield) and Flora Finching (Little
Dorrit) on Maria.
(1807-1891) Journalist and Dickens' oldest friend. Dickens and Beard were
reporters together at the Morning Chronicle and Beard was best man
at Dickens wedding. Beard's younger brother Francis was Dickens' personal
physician and was with him when he died.
(1794-1871) Early Dickens publisher and owner of Bentley's
Miscellany where Dickens served as editor. Their stormy relationship ended
in 1840 when Dickens bought the rights to Oliver Twist which Bentley
owned by a previous agreement.
(1800-1869) Partner in Bradbury and Evans,
Dickens' printers when he was published by Chapman
and Hall, and then his publisher when he broke with
Chapman and Hall in 1844.
Dickens then broke with Bradbury and Evans in 1858
when they refused to print his explanation for the separation with Catherine
in their magazine, Punch.
(1815-1882) Dickens' major illustrator
through most of his career. Browne took over the illustration of Pickwick
after the suicide of Robert Seymour. Browne and Dickens developed an excellent
working relationship and Browne took the nickname Phiz to complement Dickens'
Boz. Browne would go on to illustrate Dickens' work for 23 years. Dickens
association with Browne cooled after the somewhat disappointing illustrations
for A Tale of Two Cities. He never worked for Dickens again.
(1803-1873) English novelist and playwright
(Paul Clifford-It was a dark and stormy night...) who, with Dickens,
founded the Guild of Literature and Art. It was Bulwer-Lytton who persuaded
Dickens to change the ending of Great Expectations from one where
Pip and Estella part, to one where they apparently live happily ever after.
(1814-1906) Wealthy philanthropist for whom
Dickens helped to find suitable charitable projects such as Urania Cottage,
a home for homeless women, and support for the Field Lane Ragged School,
which provided education to the very poor.
(1795-1881) Scottish novelist and historian (History
of the French Revolution) and a major influence and close friend of
Dickens. Dickens used Carlyle's work on the French Revolution as background
for A Tale of Two Cities.
(1804-1880) Partner in Dickens publisher Chapman and
Hall. Chapman was the more literary of the partners
and it was he who originated the idea to issue Pickwick in monthly
parts, a method which Dickens used throughout his career and contributed
to his success.
(1823-1895) Cousin of Edward
Chapman with whom he partnered after the death of William
Hall in 1847. He took over the business when Edward
retired in 1864.
(1824-1889) English novelist and journalist (The
Woman in White, The Moonstone) whom Dickens met in 1851. Dickens and
Collins became fast friends, literary collaborators (The Lazy Tour of
Two Idle Apprentices), and traveling companions (Italy, Paris). Collin's
sickly brother, Charles, married Dickens' daughter Kate.
(1792-1878) Popular illustrator who became an
early friend of Dickens, illustrating Sketches by Boz and Oliver
Twist. Cruikshank also acted in Dickens' amateur theatrical company.
Their friendship cooled when Cruikshank, formerly a heavy drinker, became
a fanatical teetotaler in opposition to Dickens' views of moderation. Cruikshank
later claimed that the idea for Oliver Twist had been his.
(-1900) Manager of Dickens' reading tours in England and America from 1866-1870.
Wrote Charles Dickens as I Knew Him in 1885.
(1819-1880) English novelist (Adam Bede, Silas
Marner, Middlemarch) born Mary Anne Evans, the daughter of a Warwickshire
carpenter. Mary Anne wrote fiction under the name George Eliot and lived
for more than 20 years with author George
Henry Lewes (1817-1878) while Lewes was still married to another woman.
Lewes was an old friend of Dickens and had been a member of Dickens' amateur
theatrical troupe. Dickens enjoyed Eliot's first fiction, Scenes of
Clerical Life, recognizing immediately that it was written by a woman.
Dickens approached Eliot for a piece for his weekly, All the Year Round,
in 1859 which Eliot had to decline due to other obligations. Both Eliot
and Lewes were physically unattractive and Dickens privately referred to them as "the
ugliest couple in London".
Partner in the firm of Bradbury
and Evans, publishers of Dickens' works from 1844-1858. When the firm refused
to print a statement by Dickens concerning his separation with Catherine
the angry Dickens broke with the firm and went back to his original publishers,
Chapman and Hall. When
Dickens' son Charles married Evans' daughter
Bessie in 1862, Dickens refused to attend the wedding.
(1816-1863) Artist and actor in Dickens theatricals for
which he also designed costumes. He proposed to Dickens' sister-in-law,
Georgina, which she refused.
(1812-1876) An accomplished journalist, biographer,
and historian, Forster was Dickens' best friend, literary advisor, and biographer.
Forster proof-read nearly all of Dickens' works in progress. A man of great
common sense, Forster provided the frequently impetuous Dickens sound personal,
literary, and business advise. Dickens relied heavily on Forster to take
care of business during his frequent trips away from London. Forster was
also one of the players in Dickens' amateur acting troupe.
Forster was drama critic and later editor of the Examiner, putting
him in the center of London literary life. After Dickens' death in 1870,
Forster published The
Life of Charles Dickens, drawn heavily on hundreds of letters from
Dickens through the years and still the definitive Dickens biography although
some facts about Dickens' life were suppressed. Forster also wrote biographies
of Goldsmith, Defoe, and Swift among others.
(1810-1865) Dickens was so impressed with Gaskell's novel Mary Barton that she was one of the first authors he solicited to contribute to his weekly magazine HouseHold Words. She became a regular contributor to the magazine. She disapproved of the way Dickens handled his separation with Catherine but continued to contribute to Dickens next weekly, All the Year Round. Dickens visited Gaskell and her husband on trips to Manchester.
(1801-1847) Partner in the firm of Chapman
and Hall, publisher of Dickens' works from 1840-1844 and from 1858-1870.
Hall was the business expert in the firm, his partner, Edward
Chapman, was the literary expert.
(1783-1870) Dickens' father-in-law, educated in the law
at Edinburgh, he once served as legal Advisor to Sir Walter Scott. He met
Dickens in 1834 when they worked together at the Morning Chronicle.
Hogarth later edited the Evening Chronicle for which Dickens contributed
articles. Dickens married his daughter Catherine
(1783-1859) First American author to gain worldwide
recognition. Dickens was an admirer and early Dickens' works were compared
to Irving's writings. They met during Dickens' 1842 trip to America where
Irving supported Dickens' views on international copyright. The relationship
cooled with the publication of Dickens' American Notes, which was
critical of America.
(1817-1864) Illustrator for the satirical magazine
Punch, and for Dickens' Christmas books (A Christmas Carol).
Also an actor in Dickens' amateur theatricals.
(1809-1870) Editor of the satirical magazine Punch.
Lemon contributed articles to Dickens' weekly Household Words and
adapted several Dickens' stories for the stage. Dickens and Lemon's friendship
was another victim of Dickens' separation from Catherine,
the two did not speak from 1858 to 1864 when they were reconciled at the
graveside of mutual friend Clarkson Stanfield.
(1807-1882) American poet and professor
of modern languages at Harvard. Dickens met Longfellow during his first
American visit in 1842 and the two became fast friends. Longfellow visited
Dickens in London later in 1842 and stayed at Dickens' home at Devonshire
Terrace, Dickens took Longfellow on a tour of the London slums. Longfellow
visited Dickens in England again in 1856 and 1868.
(1806-1870) Artist and close friend of Dickens early
in his career. He painted several pictures of the Dickens family including
the famous Nickleby
Portrait, painted in 1839. He was commissioned to provide frescos for
the rebuilt Houses of Parliament. Maclise Painting: Merry
Christmas at the Baron's Hall-1838.
(1793-1873) Distinguished actor and manager of the
Covent Garden theater. An intimate friend of the Dickens family, Macready
took responsibility for Dickens' children when he and Catherine
went to America in 1842. He provided Dickens with instruction in the amateur
(1809-1837) Dickens first publisher (Sketches by Boz). After Dickens' fame
skyrocketed be was able to buy out his agreements with Macrone. Macrone
died unexpectedly at age 28 and Dickens helped to publish a book (Pic-Nic
Papers) to benefit Macrone's widow and children.
(1809-1849) American author and poet who met Dickens
in Baltimore in 1842. Poe's admiration for Dickens' work was an influence
on his own writing. The relationship ended two years later when Poe was
slighted in an article about American Poetry written by Forster
which Poe believed was the work of Dickens. Dickens' pet raven, Grip, was
the inspiration for Poe's poem, The Raven.
Dickens and Poe in Philadelphia - Herb Moskovitz
(1793-1867) English landscape and marine painter
(The Abandoned) and friend of Dickens from 1838. Stanfield painted
background scenery for Dickens' amateur theatricals and contributed illustration
for the Christmas books (Battle of Life, The Haunted Man). Stanfield, a
Catholic, was invited to illustrate Pictures from Italy but declined
due to Dickens satirical treatment of Catholicism in the book. Dickens dedicated
Little Dorrit to Stanfield.
(1800-1859) Illustrator and, from 1851 to 1860, a neighbor
of the Dickens family. Stone contributed illustrations to several of Dickens'
works (The Haunted Man, later editions of Nickleby and Chuzzlewit)
and was an actor in Dickens' amateur theatricals.
(1840-1921) Illustrator and artist, son of artist Frank
Stone. After the death of his father, Marcus was invited to illustrate
Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend. Marcus later abandoned illustration
to pursue painting.
(1795-1854) Lawyer, author, and Member of Parliament
and supporter of Dickens' crusade for copyright protection. Dickens dedicated
Pickwick to Talfourd.
(1839-1914) Dickens' mistress, an 18 year old actress
that Dickens met in 1857 when he hired her, her mother, and sister to act
in his production of The Frozen Deep. Dickens continued a secret
relationship with Ellen until his death and was not known to the public
until 65 years later. There is still much speculation about how intimate
their relationship was.
(1811-1863) English novelist (Vanity
Fair, The Virginians). Dickens and Thackeray first met when illustrator
Robert Seymour committed suicide during the serialization of Pickwick
and a new illustrator was sought, Thackeray applied, unsuccessfully, for
the job. Though never an intimate relationship, Dickens and Thackeray shared
mutual admiration for each other's work. Thackeray was from a higher social
strata than was Dickens and pointed this out on occasion. The two literary
greats had a falling out over an incident at the Garrick Club in 1858 but
were reconciled shortly before Thackeray's death. Dickens
eulogized Thackeray in Cornhill Magazine in February 1864.
Back to Top