Why Dickens' Wife Left Her 10 Children and the Writer

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Catherine Dickens is far less known than her legendary husband, Charles. When you think about Victorian novels, his name is the first one to pop up. But the story of Mrs. Dickens’ life is very much like a novel itself. Catherine was not only a brave traveler, but a good actress, an excellent cook, and even a writer. She acted in Charles’ amateur plays and wrote and published a cookbook that was a bestseller.

So, why did this woman of many talents, a devoted wife and mother of 10 make a desperate move and divorced her husband? For many years Dickens’ biographers treated her as foolish and impulsive, but it’s high time you knew the truth about her!

TIMESTAMPS:
How Charles Dickens met Catherine 0:39
“Best half”, “wifey” and “Mrs. D.” 1:29
What Charles blamed Catherine for 3:50
The fatal mistake that put an end to their marriage 4:52
Why the kids stayed with their father 6:16
What Catherine's great-great-granddaughter says 8:03
Awful thing Charles tried to do 8:50

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SUMMARY:
- Catherine Hogarth was born in Scotland in May, 1815. She was the first of 10 children brought up in a good, intelligent family.
- She was a smart and beautiful young woman, and Dickens liked her at once. Charles was dreaming of a loving, close-knit family and Catherine was perfect for the role of a good housewife, a thoughtful mother and an intelligent friend.
- They were young, free and joyful. No domestic or financial problems would distract them from enjoying each other. They would go to theaters and parties. Charles called Catherine his “best half”, “wifey” and “Mrs. D.”
- Before the birth of their 5th child, the couple visited America. Dickens had had huge success there; his novels immediately became bestsellers.
- Well, when Catherine gave birth to their 5th child, Charles was no longer happy about having a large family. For the first time, he complained about having so many children.
- Within 15 years, Catherine had given birth to a total of 10 children and had 2 miscarriages. No wonder she was under so much stress and looked nothing like the young and pretty woman Charles married.
- Finally, Charles concluded that they weren’t made for each other. He would tell his friends that his wife was cold and apathetic.
- Soon after that, in spring, 1858, a fatal mistake put an end to the Dickens’ marriage. A bracelet that Charles had bought for a young 18-year-old actress, Ellen Ternan, was delivered to their house instead.
- Catherine had had enough. She left Charles forever.
- The Victorians treated marriage as something that couldn’t be broken. But if it did happen, a woman had no rights. That’s why it was only the eldest son Charles Jr. who left the family house together with Catherine.
- The society condemned Catherine and considered her unworthy of her famous genius husband.
- It was only 139 years after Catherine’s death, in 2016, that her great-great-great-granddaughter Lucinda Hawksley, who is an author and lecturer herself, defended her. She said that Dickens' biographers hadn't done justice to the woman who was a good wife and mother but had a very uneasy life with Charles.
- The discovered letters show that before getting an official divorce, Charles tried to institutionalize his wife based on a fake diagnosis. He tried to convince a doctor to declare Catherine insane.

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