2012 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens birth (7 February). He has many well written biographies but not of the women in his lives - until now. This book by Isba was followed quickly by another of the same title by Sonia Fraser and Miriam Margoyles. Accounts of the women in Dickens' life are found in all his biographies but Isba had brought the focus sharply on each of them in this 139 page book. It was written without judgment, comments on his behaviour came largely from recorded comments of others including his daughter Katey who did not think that we could separate Dickens' behaviour towards the women from his genius.
Charles Dickens' first love was Maria Beadnell who was to re-enter his life after his marriage to Catherine Hogarth. That marriage brought not just a Hogarth daughter to the Dickens' home but three. Catherine's sister, Mary went to live with them as a companion to Catherine. Mary, who was much adored by Dickens died young, in the arms of Dickens. The third sister, Georgy went to the Dickens household at age 15 and lived there as housekeeper, companion, surrogate mother, and administrator of Charles Dickens' estate. In between there was a platonic but significant woman, Angela Burdett-Coutts, a rich and beautiful lady who was the benefactress of Dickens and for whom he ran a home for fallen women. His major romantic love was Nelly Ternan, an actress he met when she was 18 and he 46. Terna was eventually buried alongside Dickens; Catherine Hogarth in an unmarked grave many years before.
This book about Dickens and his women will help readers understand his female characters a little more.