The Gospel in Dickens
Click the image to order my book!

« Dolly and the Barbie doll | Main | It was the best of Universes »

July 22, 2023


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It has always struck me as intriguing that Georgina Hogarth sided with her brother-in-law over her sister especially when the majority opinion is that he was the one in the wrong. My best guess was that Dickens could be as charismatic in person as on paper. So even though I'm not much interested in biographies, I think the subject is interesting enough that I might give the book a look sometime.

I don't think Skelton explained precisely why Georgina was so cruel to her sister Catherine by way of publicly endorsing and repeating Dickens' lies about Catherine when she clearly knew they were lies. Georgina's behaviour is inexplicable - perhaps no one can explain it.

I agree with Skelton that in considering Georgina's actions at the time her sister separated from Dickens, we must acknowledge the Victorian context - that in a patriarchal society, the power was with Dickens; that Georgina was a middle aged, middle class, unmarried woman, and financially dependant on Dickens. However, I completely disagree with Skelton that Georgina did not possess 'autonomy' to make a 'decision' or have a 'choice' at the time of Dickens' separation from his wife. That is denying Georgina any free will whatsoever as a human being to make decisions about her own life, which is absurd. In making such a statement, Skelton seems not to have properly considered what wider Society expected of Georgina at the time of the separation. If Georgina really had no 'choice', she would have done what Society and her family expected of her - i.e. leave the Dickens' household when her sister did. I think it took a very strong character to make a decision that flew in the face of convention in the Victorian era. From many of the examples in the book of Georgina's behaviour, she was far from lacking in autonomy and strength (an example is the practical jokes she played on others, male and female). I believe most women in the same position as Georgina, would not have made the decision to stay in the Dickens' household, precisely because they would have been acutely aware of the resulting scandal and social shaming, which, Skelton explains, inevitably did attach to Georgina. It's also clear that Georgina subsequently relished the decision that she made. As Skelton states, after Dickens' death, Georgina stated she would not have altered her life 'for the brightest and most prosperous existence any woman could have'.

What came across to me strongly was Georgina's bizarre, completely blind devotion to Dickens. This extended beyond his death when she censored anything untoward about him, and did her utmost to maintain a spotless public reputation for him that was, regrettably, false.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)