Catalogue


Charles Dickens at home /
Hilary Macaskill ; special photography by Graham Salter ; [foreword by Florian Schweizer].
imprint
London : Frances Lincoln Ltd., c2011.
description
144 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 26 x 25 cm.
ISBN
071123227X (hbk.), 9780711232273 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
London : Frances Lincoln Ltd., c2011.
isbn
071123227X (hbk.)
9780711232273 (hbk.)
standard identifier
60001479667
contents note
Childhood -- Growing up -- Marriage and domesticity -- Dickens away -- A man of means -- Dickens away -- Households and servants -- Home again to Kent -- The legacy.
abstract
This book tracks the places Dickens lived, from his Portsmouth birthplace and childhood home in Chatham to his last home back in Kent, at Gad's Hill Place in Rochester. The book also covers his travels in England and abroad, where the locations provided the settings in his novels, such as Nicholas Nickleby's Yorkshire and in the East Anglia of David Copperfield, Charles Dickens's most autobiographical novel. Above all, it is London, where he lived in different homes for the majority of his life, which is so identified with Dickens and with his fiction. One thing that characterised his attitude to all his homes in adult life was his deep involvement in domestic arrangements, despite the frantic pace of his intensive work schedule. It was this close attention to detail, as well as his acute observation of his surroundings, that distinguished his novels, both in their portrayal of home life and in their sense of place. An invaluable resource to anyone who has an interest in the settings of Dickens' work, Hilary Macaskill weaves a narrative which places this great writer in his domestic context, gloriously illustrated with archive material and original photography. --publisher.
catalogue key
8276831
 
Contains bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter

HOUSEHOLDS AND SERVANTS



Perhaps Charles Dickens owes his storytelling genius to his grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens. Elizabeth had been a maid to Lady Blandford in Grosvenor Square, but after marrying William Dickens, the butler for Lord Crewe, she had become housekeeper for the Crewe family, and the greatest treat for the Crewe children, Henrietta and Arabella (as Arabella recalled in her adulthood), was to be allowed to make their way to the housekeeper's room, where they listened in rapt attention to 'old Mrs Dickens'. She worked until she was 75, ending her days in a house in Oxford Street, then a residential street. Though she didn't die until Charles was 12, her skills were not recorded through the Dickens' family: indeed, the fact that his grandparents were upper-servants in an aristocratic household was one that, along with Warrens blacking factory, was suppressed until late in his life.



It is, however, an interesting background to this most accomplished of storytellers, whose servant characters are often sympathetic and as strong as the main protagonist. Where, for example, would Mr Pickwick be without Sam Weller? And where might Sam Weller be without Mary Weller? Mary Weller was the name of the servant (one of two) in the Chatham household, a young girl who recorded some of the earliest memories of the young Charles. A nod to her presence in his mind was perhaps made when he called his first, faithful, servant Weller. And Sam Weller's bride 'the very smart and pretty-faced servant girl' was also called Mary.



When the family moved from Chatham to London, Mary stayed behind and married a shipwright from the dockyard. Accompanying the family to Bayham Street in London, was an orphan girl from the Chatham workhouse, a memory Dickens drew on for the Marchioness in The Old Curiosity Shop.



The matter of servants was of mainly academic - or fictional - interest to Charles, until he maintained his own household. There is a mention of one when he was living at 15 Furnival Inn in 1835 in a letter to John Macrone, who published Sketches of Boz, one November Saturday morning at 5 o'clock, that also gives an insight into his daily life:



I am writing by candlelight shivering with cold and choaked with smoke. The fire (which has been fed like a furnace at the gas works all night, with a view of my 'early breakfast' has turned unaccountably white and dusty at the very moment when it ought to boil the kettle... I think it's rather a disagreeable morning but I can't say exactly - because it's so foggy. My laundress who is asthmatic has dived into a closet - I suppose to prevent her cough annoying me - and is emitting from behind the door an uninterrupted succession of the most unearthly and hollow noises I have ever heard.'



Perhaps the same laundress was employed in the first marital home in Furnival's Inn. But certainly when the Dickens family moved to Doughty Street in 1836, there was a need for more staff. There were 'tweenies', as they were known, from the orphanage, to act as scullery maids for a wage of 2/- or 2/6d, and there must certainly have been the need for a nurse, since two babies were born there. There would have been a cook, housemaid, and later a groom or manservant: looking at Dickens' account book one can get an idea of the personnel and the wages: the nurse's monthly wage was between £3 and £4 5s; the cook was paid £3 13 6 per month in 1838; housemaids were paid 2.5 guineas in 1838, rising to 3 guineas in January 39.



By the time his second son Walter was born, his household had expanded considerably: in the 1841 census return for that year, he described himself as 'Gentleman', and declared his household at 1 Devonshire Terrace as consisting of wife and four children, four maid-servants and one man-servant. His stock had certainly risen.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2012-02-15:
This slim coffee-table book uses a combined chronological and thematic presentation of the places that Dickens called home, from birth to death, to present an accessible narrative of his life and works. The new color photographs by Graham Salter unfortunately have the look of blue-sky images from a travel brochure; there is nothing in them of the foggy, crowded, teeming world we think of as Dickensian-but the book's secondary purpose is probably to tempt readers to literally follow Dickens around England and beyond. Travel writer Macaskill tells the story of Dickens's life, from Portsmouth to Chatham to London to his long European visits (he loved Boulogne and Genoa), to Gad's Hill Place in Kent, and includes brief quotes from published primary and secondary sources. -VERDICT For public libraries and high schools in need of an unchallenging introduction to Dickens. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
Macaskill presents a captivating landscape, covering everywhere Dickens lived plus all his travels at home and abroad. By placing him within a domestic context, enriched by a wealth of archive illustrations and photographs, the book offers a fresh glimpse of the novelist whose close attention to detail and acute awareness of place was reflected throughout his novels, which brilliantly convey the flavour of home life.
A lavishly illustrated piece of heritage book-making that describes the various places Dickens lived and visited.
As if Charles Dickens wasn't already magnificent enough, it turns out he was a dab hand at home deco.
'Charles Dickens at Home' takes the reader to the many and varied places where Dickens lived and visited. Our journey is enriched not only with insightful and painstakingly researched words, but also through a wealth of authentic illustrations and recent original photographs... In the tradition of this great weaver of tales, Ms. Macaskill's eminently readable volume will delight booklovers everywhere as they are transported into the world of Charles Dickens at Home the place that shaped his sensibilities and in which he created his classic novels.
Hilary Macaskill is an indefatiguable sleuth.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, February 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Hilary Macaskill weaves a narrative which places this great writer in his domestic context, gloriously illustrated with archive material and original photography.
Main Description
One of the best-loved of English authors, Charles Dickens is revered as a storyteller, social campaigner and chronicler of his time and place. This book tracks the places Dickens lived, from his Portsmouth birthplace and childhood home in Chatham to his last home back in Kent, at Gad's Hill Place in Rochester. The book also covers his travels in England and abroad, where the locations provided the settings in his novels, such as Nicholas Nickleby's Yorkshire and in the East Anglia of David Copperfield, Charles Dickens's most autobiographical novel. Above all, it is London, where he lived in different homes for the majority of his life, which is so identified with Dickens and with his fiction. One thing that characterised his attitude to all his homes in adult life was his deep involvement in domestic arrangements, despite the frantic pace of his intensive work schedule. It was this close attention to detail, as well as his acute observation of his surroundings, that distinguished his novels, both in their portrayal of home life and in their sense of place. An invaluable resource to anyone who has an interest in the settings of Dickens' work, Hilary Macaskill weaves a narrative which places this great writer in his domestic context, gloriously illustrated with archive material and original photography.

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