The world knows Charles Dickens as the popular writer of classics like A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and more. The world, however, is mostly unaware that Dickens was part of a love triangle between his wife, Catherine, and the woman he left her for.
Charlie, you saucy little minx.
I knew all about the time he spent working in factories as a child, but, not to sound gossipy or anything, I find this particular aspect of his life fascinating. And I'm not even being sarcastic. It just shows that the writer most people nowadays consider too highbrow, and, God forbid, even boring led a very dramatic life, one that could rival the plots of his novels.
This is his wife Catherine. She was the eldest daughter of the editor of the Evening Chronicle where Dickens worked as a young journalist. They had ten children together, but, over the years, Dickens started blaming her for having the said ten children who were proving to be too expensive to feed, care for, send to school, etc, etc.
And, in the red corner wearing a lovely silk gown (sorry, got carried away), we have the other woman, Ellen Ternan. Dickens met her when he was forty-five, and she was eighteen. He saw her performing at Haymarket Theatre, and decided to cast her in The Frozen Deep, a play written by his protege Wilkie Collins. In contrast to the motherly Catherine, Ellen must have seemed vibrant, not to mention youthful. She was, after all, about twenty years younger than Catherine.
Things came to a head in May 1858 after Catherine accidentally received a bracelet meant for Ellen. This, my friends, is what I mean by dramatic. She received a bracelet meant for her husband's mistress! It almost sounds like something from a soap opera.
But I do genuinely feel sorry for Catherine. She was forced to move out of the house she shared with Dickens, and leave her children behind. Her own sister, Georgina, even sided with Dickens. Ouch. On her deathbed, she gave her collection of letters from Dickens to her daughter Kate so that "the world may know he loved her once."
That almost makes me want to cry.
And people say classics are boring.
Bah, I say. Bah!