Dickens and Women

By | November 18, 2011

‘My father did not understand women,’ Charles Dickens's daughter, Katey Dickens, confided to her friend and biographer Gladys Storey.

Some of the women whose lives were touched by Victorian England’s greatest novelist, the writer who called himself the ‘Inimitable’ one, will have felt that the sentiment was entirely mutual. Charles Dickens’s close relationships with women were always complex, often contradictory, and sometimes manipulative and hurtful.  Almost invariably, they left him feeling that he was missing something, something undefined that lingered just beyond his grasp.

Publishing to coincide with the bicentenary of his birth, Dickens's Women by Anne Isba looks at the emotional life of Charles Dickens, examining his relationships with some of the women to whom he was closest.

They include the mother who failed to recognise his early promise; the young woman who spurned him before he was famous; the wife he cast aside in middle age; the benefactress for whom he managed a house for 'fallen women'; and the actress, less than half his age, with whom he spent his final years.

Each woman casts light on a different aspect of Dickens's personality. But they were united by a common theme: whatever they gave him, it was rarely enough to satisfy Dickens's sense of entitlement.

 We are delighted that the book was reviewed on The BookBag earlier this week:

'[This book] reveals that he was a complex, many-sided character with perhaps unrealistic expectations (a case of too great expectations, perhaps?) from those in his life. In this case, the artistic temperament of a creative yet restless soul evidently did not have the makings of a good and faithful husband. As the last sentence reads, Charles Dickens would always have wanted more.'

To read the Introduction to the book, click on the 'preview' button above!


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