Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens

Charley was 21 when his mother was sent away and he was the only child that insisted on moving with her.  Charley's education was paid for by a benefactor.  He tried being a merchant- first in the tea business, then in a paper mill.  Both failed.  He finally went to work with his father on his magazine "All the Year Round".  Also he wrote two books.  Charley eventually inherited the magazine but struggled to keep it going.  He had 7 daughters and one son. The son was disowned because he married a bar maid.  Many of the girls did not marry and ended up appealing to the public for financial help after their father died at age 59.

Mamie was independent and loved to spend time with friends.  She never married and continued to live with her aunt after her father's death but struggled financially.  This is a theme with all the children.  Although it seems that Dickens must have had a lot of money, it had to be divided in many places.  He supported his wife in London and his mistress (who had been a movie star and gave up acting for him), as well as his sister-in-law who ran the Dickens household.  Also, he only lived to be 58 and, although some of his books sold well for the time, he did not amass a fortune.  Mamie got involved with a minister and his wife who were supposedly working for charity, but the public was very wary of them.  Mamie died at 58, on the day that Charley was buried.

Katy had a long life but many problems and many serious illnesses.  She was probably manic with OCD.  She went to art school for five years.  After her father sent her mother away, he was like a madman and Katy couldn't stand living at home, so she married an artist friend whom she did not love.  When he died of cancer after 15 years, she married a man that she did love.  She was happy with him but lost her only child at 7 months.  Her second husband died and she received an annuity and also had an admirer.  However, she continued to have mood swings and feared death, so slept in a chair or wandered the house.  She died at 89.

Walter began to be educated for the military at age 8.  At 16, he sailed for India.  He amassed debts and became sick.  He died in India (aneurism of the aorta) at age 22.

Frank had a stammer.   He was sent to Germany at 14 to prepare to be a doctor.  Soon he returned home and tried many different things.  At 19, he was sent to India with the Bengal Mounted Police.  His brother, living in India,  had died before Frank got there, but news had not reached him.  After 7 years in India, he returned to England for a 6 month leave but never returned.  His father had died and he had an inheritance which he quickly lost.  At 30, he joined the North-West Mounted Police in Canada.  He resigned at 44 and died that year in Moline, Illinois from heart disease.

Alfred  was happy and good tempered.  He was sent to France to perfect his French as most of the boys were.  He failed the entrance exam for the army, but went to Australia at 19 and managed a sheep station.  He married and had a good life, with 2 daughters,  when  his wife died in an accident.  He married a younger woman.  When his business failed, he returned to England at 65, where he gave lectures and readings, then he moved to Boston.  He died in New York at age 67.

Sydney was a breech birth and died of heart disease at 25.  He had been sent to France and then to naval school at age 12.  At age 14, he sailed for the U.S.  He was small and well-liked, but irresponsible with money as the other children were also.  He was buried at sea.

Henry  was the most successful and the happiest.  He was jolly and comical.  At 9, he went to school in France, where his two brothers were living.Then he was sent to Cambridge University where he won a scholarship and achieved a law degree at 23.  He fared better with his money, married at 27,  had 7 children and did well in his career.  He retired at 83 and died the next year.

Dora's birth had been difficult for Catherine, so she went to a famous spa to recuperate.  While she was there, the baby died.  Baby Dora had been left with Charles and a nurse.

Plorn, real name Edward, was shy.  He went to agricultural college and was sent to Australia at 15.  He became the manager of a sheep station and married at 27.  He became involved in politics and was mildly successful.  But he failed as a businessman.  He died childless and in debt at 50.

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