Georgina Hogarth - Discord

Discord

In 1858 Georgina Hogarth sided with Dickens in his quarrel with her sister, Catherine, Dickens's wife. This caused the family to break apart. Georgina, Charles Dickens and all of the children except Charles Dickens, Jr. remained in their home at Tavistock House, while Catherine and Charles Jr. moved out. Georgina Hogarth ran his household. On 12 June 1858 he published a self-justifying and cruel article in his journal, Household Words, explaining the situation.

"Some domestic trouble of mine, of long-standing, on which I will make no further remark than that it claims to be respected, as being of a sacredly private nature, has lately been brought to an arrangement, which involves no anger or ill-will of any kind, and the whole origin, progress, and surrounding circumstances of which have been, throughout, within the knowledge of my children. It is amicably composed, and its details have now but to be forgotten by those concerned in it....By some means, arising out of wickedness, or out of folly, or out of inconceivable wild chance, or out of all three, this trouble has been made the occasion of misrepresentations, most grossly false, most monstrous, and most cruel - involving, not only me, but innocent persons dear to my heart.... I most solemnly declare, then -- and this I do both in my own name and in my wife's name -- that all the lately whispered rumours touching the trouble, at which I have glanced, are abominably false. And whosoever repeats one of them after this denial, will lie as wilfully and as foully as it is possible for any false witness to lie, before heaven and earth".

He sent this statement to the newspapers, including The Times, and many reprinted it. He fell out with Bradbury and Evans, his publishers, because they refused to publish his statement in Punch as they thought it unsuitable for a humorous periodical. An even more tactless public statement appeared in the New York Tribune, which later found its way into several British newspapers. In this statement Dickens declared that it had been only Georgina Hogarth who had held the family together for some time:

".... I will merely remark of that some peculiarity of her character has thrown all the children on someone else. I do not know -- I cannot by any stretch of fancy imagine -- what would have become of them but for this aunt, who has grown up with them, to whom they are devoted, and who has sacrificed the best part of her youth and life to them. She has remonstrated, reasoned, suffered, and toiled, again and again, to prevent a separation between Mrs. Dickens and me. Mrs. Dickens has often expressed to her sense of affectionate care and devotion in her home -- never more strongly than within the last twelve months.

In the same year Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray were members of the Garrick Club. On going into the club one day Thackeray remarked that Dickens's separation from Catherine was due to a liaison with an actress, Ellen Ternan, rather than with Georgina Hogarth. Dickens was so infuriated with this remark that it almost put an end to the Dickens-Thackeray friendship.

In an attempt to dispel the rumours that he and Hogarth had been having an affair, Dickens had her examined by doctors who verified that she was still a virgin.

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