Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle

Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle

Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle

Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle

Excerpt

In spite of her long and close association with Dickens, his children, and his friends, Georgina Hogarth has hitherto inspired no biography. It is curious that she should have been neglected when other women whose association with the novelist was briefer and no more significant--notably Maria Beadnell and Ellen Ternan--have received book-length consideration. To be sure, as Dickens's sisterin-law and confidante she has of necessity been given some attention by his biographers, but frequently with negative results. If only a few of her detractors have accepted the unsavoury gossip aimed at her from irresponsible quarters, more have condemned her as a clever and ruthless schemer bent on usurping the position of her sister, Catherine Dickens. Where criticism of her has not advanced such unsupportable charges, she has usually emerged only as a shadowy figure or an enigma.

To such treatments there are, happily, exceptions, particularly the definitive biography of Dickens by Professor Edgar Johnson, which has appraised Miss Hogarth objectively. Understandably, however, the focus of that work has not permitted a detailed chronicle of her life as a member of Dickens's household from 1842 to 1870 nor any consideration whatever of her forty-seven years after the novelist's death.

Such emphasis has been the purpose of my study, which reviews her connection not only with Dickens himself but with his family circle and his friends. Though Part One covers what to most Dickensians must be familiar territory, especially since the appearance of Professor Johnson's comprehensive two-volume work, to ignore this material would be to ignore thirty-eight years of Miss Hogarth's life. While I have tried to summarize and condense wherever possible, I have not hesitated to introduce well-known details whenever they were needed to point up interpretations of character or prepare the reader for Miss Hogarth's association with Dickens's children and friends in the second half of the book. If this work seems to devote a disproportionate amount of space to Dickens and his family, it is because her relationship with them was not only the mainspring of her life, but also the chief justification for a biography of her.

In presenting this portrait of Georgina Hogarth, I have let the evidence speak for itself. Dickens's letters to her, both published . . .

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