Through his work, Charles Dickens was perhaps the foremost chronicler of 19th-century British life. And in classic novels such as Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, the beloved author pointed out that even the seemingly most honorable people in society often possess their own unsavory foibles. Given what we now know about Dickens’ marriage, however, it appears that he may have been somewhat of a scoundrel himself.
Dickens had first encountered his future wife, Catherine Hogarth, in 1834, and that meeting came by way of a fortuitous connection. Both Dickens and Catherine’s father, George Hogarth, worked for the London newspaper The Morning Chronicle, you see. George was a music critic there, while the man who would go on to become his son-in-law was employed by the publication as a parliamentary reporter.
Catherine eventually became fond of Dickens, too. Following a soiree in celebration of the writer’s 23rd birthday, in fact, the young woman professed her growing admiration for the man whom she would eventually marry. “Mr. Dickens improves greatly on acquaintance,” Catherine wrote in a letter to her cousin from 1835.