Sue Young Histories

Charles Dickens 1812 - 1870

June 17, 2008

**Charles Dickens 1812 – 1870Charles Dickens **1812 – 1870, pen name “Boz”, was the foremost English novelist of the Victorian era, as well as a vigorous social campaigner.

Dickens was an advocate of homeopathy. Dickens visited the Water Cure Establishment at Malvern, Worcestershire run by homeopath James Manby Gully, and he was a close friend of Homeopaths William Hering, Charles Thomas PearceFrederick Hervey Foster Quin, The Rosher Family, Marmaduke Blake Sampson and Robert Masters Theobald, and he was also a friend of John Epps. Charles Dickens was also a friend of Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Locock 1st Baronet, William Charles MacReadyMary Sargeant Gove Nichols, and James John Garth Wilkinson (‘… though Dr. Garth Wilkinson was the friend, and often the physician, of Carlyle, Froude, Dickens, Tennyson…’ Anon, Sotheran’s price current of literature, (1 Jan 1920). Page 111. See also Roger Cooter, Studies in the history of alternative medicine, Logie Barrow An Imponderable Liberator: JJ Garth Wilkinson, (Macmillan in association with St Antony’s College Oxford, 2 Dec 1988). Page 89).

In this 2nd centenary year of  Charles Dickens, it is shamefull that his biographer Claire Tomalin did not have the courage to even mention his close friend and homeopath, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, who was the godfather of one of his children, even once (!) in her much lauded biography – can you imagine if she had left out any black characters or the ‘slavey’ he ‘obtained’ from the workhouse to live an awful existence downstairs doing all the dirty kitchen work and what else?? Such is the prejudice against homeopathy today! Shamefull!! (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011).

From _Noodles & Knaves: Dr. Charles Thomas Pearce (1815-1883) ‘Martyr of Homœopathy’ _by David Charles Manners (his 3rd great grandson) - in 1864, Dickens was a close friend of homeopath Charles Thomas Pearce, and he dined with him at his home.

Charles Dickens was a patient of John Elliotson. In 1823,  Ignaz Moscheles was located at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he taught Fanny Dickens, the sister of  Charles Dickens (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011). Page 21). In 1850, Edward Bulwer Lytton recommended the healing spa at Malvern to Dickens and his wife (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011). Page 233). In 1866, Dickens took homeopathic remedies for a bad cold whilst in New York (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011). Page 366), and in the same year, back in England, Dickens asked for homeopathic cocoa (not really homeopathic

  • but at this time the word homeopathy was so popular, it was attached to many products to get them to sell well) in milk for his breakfast (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011). Page 381). In 1870, Dickens was using a Voltaic Band on his swollen and gouty foot, supplied by homeopath Theodore Pulvermacher (Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Penguin Group US, 27 Oct 2011). Page 393).

Dickens was especially fond of his own homeopath Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, who was invited to Mary’s christening (John Greaves, Dickens at Doughty Street, (Elm Tree Books, 22 May 1975). Page 70).

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, the first British physician to practice homeopathy in England and the first homeopath to British royalty, was also the homeopath to many of the British elite, including literary great Charles Dickens.

Frederick Hervey Foster Quin was a personal friend of Charles Dickens and godfather to one of his children.

Charles Dickens was a friend of homeopath Moncure Daniel Conway, who linked together Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, Charles Lyell, and Thomas Carlyle, Erasmus Darwin, Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Harriet Martineau, George Everest and his brother, homeopath Thomas Roupell Everest, Robert Everest (?brother of George and Thomas Everest - a geographer who lived in India). Publisher John Chapman and Thomas Henry Huxley were also part of this group.


One of Charles Dickens’s short novels that mentioned homeopathy was The Mudfog Papers (1837-1838). The story takes place in the mythic town of Mudfog, and like other Dickens works is full of odd and interesting characters.

In this book, Dickens relates the story of a surgeon named Pipkin who tells about a short and interesting communication from Sir William Courtenay, a self-proclaimed messiah whose real name is Thom and who is an ardent believer in homeopathic medicine. He even believes that homeopathic medicines can raise the dead if prescribed immediately upon passing.

This gentleman had a premonition that he would drown, and therefore employed a woman to follow him everywhere he went with a pail of water, with the instructions to place one drop of a homeopathic dose of lead and gunpowder under his tongue after death to restore him.

Sadly, however, the peasant woman did not understand his instructions, and Dickens concludes, “the unfortunate gentleman had been sacrificed to the ignorance of the peasantry.”

Dickens mentions homeopathy in All the Year Round and Household Words: A Weekly Journal, and in Oliver Twist, Dickens writes:

Fagin appeared to receive this communication with great interest. Mounting a stool, he cautiously applied his eye to the pane of glass, from which secret post he could see Mr. Claypole taking cold beef from the dish, and porter from the pot, and administering homeopathic doses of both to Charlotte, who sat patiently by, eating and drinking at his pleasure…

Charles Dickens was in the centre of a glitterati and intelligentsia in England and in America. In America he knew James T Fields, one of America’s most famous publisher of American writers, and a partner in Ticknor and Fields, had a bookstore known as Parnassus Corner on Old Corner.

His literary salon was packed with the influential people of the time, including Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, John Greenleaf Whittier, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, James Russell Lowell, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Horace Greeley, Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Bret Harte, Bayard Taylor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edwin Booth, and Nathaniel Parker Willis who described Parnassus Corner as ‘the hub in which every spoke of the radiating wheel of Boston intellect had a socket.. ‘.

In England, Dickens knew George MacDonald who was acquainted with most of the literary luminaries of the day; a surviving group photograph shows him with Alfred Lord Tennyson, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, George Eliot, George Henry Lewes, and William Makepeace Thackeray.

George MacDonald and Charles Dickens were close friends of homeopath James John Garth Wilkinson.

Charles Dickens was born in Landport, Portsmouth in Hampshire, the second of eight children to John Dickens (1786 – 1851), a clerk in the Navy Pay Office at Portsmouth, and his wife Elizabeth Dickens.

When he was five, the family moved to Chatham, Kent. In 1822, when he was ten, the family relocated to 16 Bayham Street, Camden Town in London.

Although his early years seem to have been an idyllic time, he thought himself then as a “very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of boy”. He spent his time outdoors, but also read voraciously, with a particular fondness for the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett and Henry Fielding.

He talked later in life of his extremely poignant memories of childhood and his continuing photographic memory of the people and events that helped to bring his fiction to life. His family was moderately wealthy, and he received some education at the private William Giles’ school in Chatham. This time of prosperity came to an abrupt end, however, when his father, after spending far too much money entertaining and retaining his social position, was imprisoned at Marshalsea debtors’ prison.

The 12-year-old Dickens began working ten hour days in a Warren’s boot-blacking factory, located near the present Charing Cross railway station. He earned six shillings a week pasting labels on the jars of thick polish. This money paid for his lodgings in Camden Town and helped him to support his family. The shocking conditions of the factory made an ingrained impression on Dickens.

After a few months, his family was able to leave Marshalsea, but their financial situation did not improve until later, partly due to money inherited from his father’s family. Dickens’s mother did not immediately remove him from the boot-blacking factory, owned by a relation of hers, and he never forgave her for this.

Resentment of his situation and the conditions under which working-class people lived became major themes of his works, championing the causes of the poor and oppressed. As Dickens wrote in David Copperfield, his personal favourite as well as his most patently autobiographical novel, “I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!”

He eventually attended the Wellington House Academy in North London.

In May 1827, Dickens began work in the office of Ellis and Blackmore as a law clerk. This was a junior office position, but it came with the potential of helping him up to the Bar. It was here that he gained his detailed knowledge of the law and the poor’s suffering at the hands of its many injustices, together with a loathing of inefficient bureaucracy which stayed with him for the rest his life.

He showed his contempt for the lawyer’s profession in his many literary works.

At the age of seventeen, he became a court stenographer and, in 1830, met his first love, Maria Beadnell. It is believed that she was the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield. Maria’s parents disapproved of the courtship and effectively ended the relationship when they sent her to school in Paris.

In 1834, Dickens became a political journalist, reporting on parliamentary debate and travelling across Britain by stagecoach to cover election campaigns for the Morning Chronicle. His journalism, in the form of sketches which appeared in periodicals from 1833, formed his first collection of pieces Sketches by Boz which were published in 1836 and led to the serialization of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, in March 1836.

He continued to contribute to and edit journals throughout much of his subsequent literary career.

Dickens’s keen perceptiveness, intimate knowledge and understanding of the people, and tale-spinning genius were quickly to gain him world renown and wealth.

On 2 April 1836, he married Catherine Thompson Hogarth (1816 – 1879), the daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle. After a brief honeymoon in Chalk, Kent, they set up home in Bloomsbury, where they had ten children…

Catherine’s sister Mary entered Dickens’s Doughty Street household to offer support to her newly married sister and brother-in-law. It was not unusual for the unwed sister of a new wife to live with and help a newly married couple. Dickens became very attached to Mary, and she died after a brief illness in his arms in 1837. She became a character in many of his books, and her death is fictionalized as the death of Little Nell.

Also in 1836, Dickens accepted the job of editor of Bentley’s Miscellany, a position that he would hold until 1839, when he fell out with the owner.

His success as a novelist continued, however, producing Oliver Twist (1837-39), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39), The Old Curiosity Shop and, finally, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty as part of the Master Humphrey’s Clock series (1840-41)—all published in monthly instalments before being made into books.

Dickens had a pet raven named Grip; it died in 1841 and Dickens had it stuffed (it is now at The Free Library of Philadelphia).

Dickens made two trips to North America.

In 1842, Dickens travelled with his wife to the United States and Canada, a journey which was successful in spite of his support for the abolition of slavery.

During this visit, Dickens spent time in New York City, where he gave lectures, raised support for copyright laws, and recorded many of his impressions of America. He toured the City for a month, and met such luminaries as Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant. On 14 Feb 1842, a Boz Ball (named after his pseudonym) was held in his honour at the Park Theater, with 3,000 of New York’s elite present. Among the neighbourhoods he visited were Five Points, Wall Street, The Bowery, and the prison known as The Tombs.

The trip is described in the short travelogue American Notes for General Circulation and is also the basis of some of the episodes in Martin Chuzzlewit.

Shortly thereafter, he began to show interest in Unitarian Christianity, although he remained an Anglican, at least nominally, for the rest of his life.

Dickens’s work continued to be popular, especially A Christmas Carol written in 1843, the first of his Christmas books, which was reputedly a potboiler written in a matter of weeks.

After living briefly abroad in Italy (1844) and Switzerland (1846), Dickens continued his success with Dombey and Son (1848); David Copperfield (1849-50); Bleak House (1852-53); Hard Times (1854); Little Dorrit (1857); A Tale of Two Cities (1859); and Great Expectations (1861).

Dickens was also the publisher and editor of, and a major contributor to, the journals Household Words (1850 – 1859) and All the Year Round (1858-1870).

In 1856, his popularity had allowed him to buy Gad’s Hill Place. This large house in Higham, Kent, had a particular meaning to Dickens as he had walked past it as a child and had dreamed of living in it. The area was also the scene of some of the events of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part 1 and this literary connection pleased him.

In 1857, in preparation for public performances of The Frozen Deep, a play on which he and his protégé Wilkie Collins had collaborated, Dickens hired professional actresses to play the female parts. With one of these, Ellen Ternan, Dickens formed a bond which was to last the rest of his life. The exact nature of their relationship is unclear, as both Dickens and Ternan burned each other’s letters, but it was clearly central to Dickens’s personal and professional life. On his death, he settled an annuity on her which made her a financially independent woman.

Claire Tomalin’s book, The Invisible Woman, set out to prove that Ellen Ternan lived with Dickens secretly for the last 13 years of his life, and has subsequently been turned into a play by Simon Gray called Little Nell.

When Dickens separated from his wife in 1858, divorce was almost unthinkable, particularly for someone as famous as he was, and so he continued to maintain her in a house for the next 20 years until she died. Although they appeared to be initially happy together, Catherine did not seem to share quite the same boundless energy for life which Dickens had. Nevertheless, her job of looking after their ten children, the pressure of living with a world-famous novelist, and keeping house for him, certainly did not help.

An indication of his marital dissatisfaction may be seen when, in 1855, he went to meet his first love, Maria Beadnell. Maria was by this time married as well, but seemed to have fallen short of Dickens’s romantic memory of her.

On 9 June 1865, while returning from France with Ternan, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash in which the first seven carriages of the train plunged off a cast iron bridge that was being repaired. The only first-class carriage to remain on the track was the one in which Dickens was travelling. Dickens spent some time tending the wounded and the dying before rescuers arrived. Before leaving, he remembered the unfinished manuscript for Our Mutual Friend, and he returned to his carriage to retrieve it. Typically, Dickens later used this experience as material for his short ghost story The Signal-Man in which the central character has a premonition of his own death in a rail crash. He based the story around several previous rail accidents, such as the Clayton Tunnel rail crash of 1861.

Dickens managed to avoid an appearance at the inquest into the crash, as it would have become known that he was travelling that day with Ellen Ternan and her mother, which could have caused a scandal. Ellen had been Dickens’s companion since the breakdown of his marriage, and, as he had met her in 1857, she was most likely the ultimate reason for that breakdown. She continued to be his companion, and likely mistress, until his death. The dimensions of the affair were unknown until the publication of Dickens and Daughter, a book about Dickens’s relationship with his daughter Kate, in 1939. Kate Dickens worked with author Gladys Storey on the book prior to her death in 1929, and alleged that Dickens and Ternan had a son who died in infancy, though no contemporary evidence exists.

Dickens, though unharmed, never really recovered from the Staplehurst crash, and his normally prolific writing shrank to completing Our Mutual Friend and starting the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood after a long interval. Much of his time was taken up with public readings from his best-loved novels. Dickens was fascinated by the theatre as an escape from the world, and theatres and theatrical people appear in Nicholas Nickleby. The travelling shows were extremely popular. In 1866 a series of public readings were undertaken in England and Scotland. The following year saw Dickens give a series of readings in England and Ireland. Dickens was now really unwell but carried on, compulsively, against his doctor’s advice.

Later in the year he embarked on his second American reading tour, which continued into 1868. During this trip, most of which he spent in New York, he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall between 9 December 1867 and 20 April 1868, and four at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims between 16 January and 21 January 1868. In his travels, he saw a significant change in the people and the circumstances of America. His final appearance was at a banquet at Delmonico’s on 18 April 1868, when he promised to never denounce America again. Dickens boarded his ship to return to Britain on 23 April 1868, barely escaping a Federal Tax Lien against the proceeds of his lecture tour.

During 1869, his readings continued, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, until at last he collapsed, showing symptoms of mild stroke. Further provincial readings were cancelled, but he began upon The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens’s final public readings took place in London in 1870. He suffered another stroke on June 8 at Gad’s Hill, after a full day’s work on Edwin Drood, and five years to the day after the Staplehurst crash, on 9 June 1870, he died at his home in Gad’s Hill Place. He was mourned by all his readers.

Contrary to his wish to be buried in Rochester Cathedral, he was laid to rest in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. The inscription on his tomb reads: “He was a sympathiser to the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.” Dickens’s will stipulated that no memorial be erected to honour him. The only life-size bronze statue of Dickens, cast in 1891 by Francis Edwin Elwell, is located in Clark Park in the Spruce Hill neighbourhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.

Of interest:

Monica Dickens\_Dickens mentions homeopathy in her novel Flowers on the Grass 1949…\_MC&pg=PT161&lpg=PT161&dq=monica+dickens+homeopath&source=bl&ots=HeUHosTFXm&sig=E19Kwa6HRMJxrQzp3csX2pVS-Tw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj8lPGo3JDXAhVFQJoKHcuKDU4Q6AEIPzAD#v=onepage&q=monica%20dickens%20homeopath&f=false

There is a very funny section about life as a nurse in this hospital during the war, in Monica Dickens’ autobiographical novel, One Pair of Feet.

See also\_id=16693&inst\_id=127&nv1=search&nv2= ‘… Issue of Reader’s Digest__, August 1980, with article about Great Ormond Street by Monica Dickens…’

See also

‘… In 1945 he was admitted to the Homoeopathic Hospital in Queens Square, Bloomsbury. … The novelist Monica Dickens__ (1915-1992) was working as a nurse at the hospital during the war: I can still see that man with pneumonia on the ground…’

George Cruikshank 1792 – 1878 was a British caricaturist and book illustrator, and he was a Member of the Management Committee of the Bath Homeopathic DispensaryCruickshank was a friend of Charles Dickens, and he worked as Charles Dickens‘s illustrator, and he acted in Charles Dickens‘ amateur theatrical company.

Charles Dickens lived in Bloomsbury Square in an eighteen roomed mansion called Tavistock House, a site now occupied by the British Medical Association..

Charles Dickens was an advocate of Nightwalking, often walking up to 20 miles around London during the night to ‘loose and to find himself’. Dickens took up Nightwalking after the death of his father in 1851, though he had earlier experimented with this in 1840. Dickens wrote about Nightwalking in an article in All the Year Round in 1860. Lecture by Matthew Beaumont 21.1.11 at Birkbeck (Senior Lecturer in English Literature at University College, London).


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