Catherine Dickens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Catherine Dickens
Catherine-dickens-young.gif
BornCatherine Thomson "Kate" Hogarth
(1815-05-19)19 May 1815
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died22 November 1879(1879-11-22) (aged 64)
Resting placeHighgate Cemetery, London
Known forWife of English novelist Charles Dickens
Spouse(s)Charles Dickens (1836–1858) (separated)
ChildrenCharles Culliford Boz Dickens
Mary Dickens
Kate Macready Dickens
Walter Landor Dickens
Francis Jeffrey Dickens
Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens
Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens
Sir Henry Fielding Dickens
Dora Annie Dickens
Edward Dickens
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Catherine Dickens
Catherine-dickens-young.gif
BornCatherine Thomson "Kate" Hogarth
(1815-05-19)19 May 1815
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died22 November 1879(1879-11-22) (aged 64)
Resting placeHighgate Cemetery, London
Known forWife of English novelist Charles Dickens
Spouse(s)Charles Dickens (1836–1858) (separated)
ChildrenCharles Culliford Boz Dickens
Mary Dickens
Kate Macready Dickens
Walter Landor Dickens
Francis Jeffrey Dickens
Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens
Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens
Sir Henry Fielding Dickens
Dora Annie Dickens
Edward Dickens

Catherine Thomson "Kate" Dickens (née Hogarth; 19 May 1815 – 22 November 1879) was the wife of English novelist Charles Dickens, and the mother of his ten acknowledged children.

Marriage[edit source | edit]

Catherine Hogarth Dickens by Samuel Lawrence (1838).[1]

Born in Edinburgh in Scotland in 1815, Catherine came to England with her family in 1834. She was the eldest daughter of George Hogarth, who was a music critic for the Morning Chronicle where Dickens was a young journalist and later the editor of the Evening Chronicle. They became engaged in 1835 and were married on April 2, 1836 in St Luke's Church, Chelsea and honeymooned in Chalk, near Chatham in Kent. They set up a home in Bloomsbury, and went on to have ten children.

Catherine's sister Mary Hogarth entered Dickens's Doughty Street household to offer support to her newly married sister and brother-in-law. It was not unusual for the unwed sister of a new wife to live with and help a newly married couple. Dickens became very attached to Mary, and she died after a brief illness in his arms in 1837. She became a character in many of his books, and her death is fictionalized as the death of Little Nell.[2]

Catherine's younger sister, Georgina Hogarth, joined the Dickens family household in 1842 when Dickens and Catherine sailed to America, caring for the young family they had left behind. In 1845 Charles Dickens produced the amateur theatrical Every Man in his Humour for the benefit of Leigh Hunt. In a subsequent performance, Catherine Dickens, who had a minor role, fell through a trap door injuring her ankle. In 1851, as 'Lady Maria Clutterbuck', Kate Dickens published a cookery book, 'What Shall we Have for Dinner? Satisfactorily Answered by Numerous Bills of Fare for from Two to Eighteen Persons'. It contained many suggested menus for meals of varying complexity together with a few recipes. It went through several editions until 1860.[3] Also in 1851 she suffered a nervous collapse after the death of her daughter Dora Dickens, aged nearly 8 months.

Over the subsequent years Dickens found Catherine an increasingly incompetent mother and housekeeper and blamed her for the birth of their 10 children, which caused him financial worries. Their separation in May 1858, after Catherine Dickens accidentally received a bracelet meant for Ellen Ternan, was much publicized and rumours of Dickens' affairs were numerous, all of which he strenuously denied.

Separation[edit source | edit]

Catherine Dickens c.1847 by Daniel Maclise

Georgina Hogarth sided with Dickens in his quarrel with her sister, Catherine. Georgina, Charles Dickens, and all of the children except Charles Dickens, Jr., remained in their home at Tavistock House, while Catherine and Charles Jr. moved out. Georgina Hogarth ran Dickens' household. On 12 June, 1858 he published an article in his journal, Household Words, explaining the situation from his perspective.

Some domestic trouble of mine,of long-standing, on which I will make no further remark than that it claims to be respected, as being of a sacredly private nature, has lately been brought to an arrangement, which involves no anger or ill-will of any kind, and the whole origin, progress, and surrounding circumstances of which have been, throughout, within the knowledge of my children. It is amicably composed, and its details have now to be forgotten by those concerned in it... By some means, arising out of wickedness, or out of folly, or out of inconceivable wild chance, or out of all three, this trouble has been the occasion of misrepresentations, mostly grossly false, most monstrous, and most cruel — involving, not only me, but innocent persons dear to my heart... I most solemnly declare, then — and this I do both in my own name and in my wife's name — that all the lately whispered rumours touching the trouble, at which I have glanced, are abominably false. And whosoever repeats one of them after this denial, will lie as wilfully and as foully as it is possible for any false witness to lie, before heaven and earth.

He sent this statement to the newspapers, including The Times, and many reprinted it. He fell out with Bradbury and Evans, his publishers, because they refused to publish his statement in Punch as they thought it unsuitable for a humorous periodical. Another public statement appeared in the New York Tribune, which later found its way into several British newspapers. In this statement Dickens declared that it had been only Georgina Hogarth who had held the family together for some time:

...I will merely remark of [my wife] that some peculiarity of her character has thrown all the children on someone else. I do not know — I cannot by any stretch of fancy imagine — what would have become of them but for this aunt, who has grown up with them, to whom they are devoted, and who has sacrificed the best part of her youth and life to them. She has remonstrated, reasoned, suffered, and toiled, again and again, to prevent a separation between Mrs. Dickens and me. Mrs. Dickens has often expressed to her sense of affectionate care and devotion in her home — never more strongly than within the last twelve months.[4]

Later years[edit source | edit]

A daguerrotype of Catherine Dickens in 1852

Dickens and Catherine had little correspondence after their separation, but she remained attached and loyal to her husband and to his memory until her own death from cancer. On her deathbed in 1879 Catherine gave the collection of letters she had received from Dickens to her daughter Kate, telling her to "Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once".

Catherine Dickens was buried in Highgate Cemetery in London with her infant daughter Dora, who had died in 1851 aged nearly 8 months.

In the media[edit source | edit]

Catherine Dickens was the subject of the sixty minute BBC Two documentary Mrs Dickens' Family Christmas, broadcast on December 30 2011 and performed and presented by Sue Perkins, and which looked at the marriage of Charles Dickens through the eyes of Catherine.

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Charles Dickens: An Exhibition to Commemorate the Centenary of His Death. London: Victorian and Albert Museum, 1970. Victorian Web.com
  2. ^ Victorianweb.org - Mary Scott Hogarth, 1820-1837: Dickens's Beloved Sister-in-Law and Inspiration
  3. ^ 'Dinner for Dickens: The Culinary History of Mrs Charles Dickens' Menu Books by Susan M Rossi-Wilcox Prospect Books (2005)
  4. ^ 'Household Words' 12 June, 1858

Literature[edit source | edit]

External links[edit source | edit]