Dianne Cox was our speaker and she is a Blue Badge Guide for Liverpool. She did a presentation of interesting photography about Charles Dickens and his connections to Liverpool.
Diane started by giving the context of the Victorian Britain Dickens was born into
- 1839. 50% of all funerals were for children under 10 years of age
- Average age of death was 27, and for working classes 22
- Working class earned £10 - £15 pa
- There was a constant threat of the workhouse hanging over paupers.
- Life was grim and crime flourished.
Dickens father had a good job in administration in the Navy, but as money always slipped through his fingers, the family fell on ‘hard times’ and moved into the Workhouse. As Dickens was only 8 when this happened it then meant that he was not able to continue in his education.
Charles was sent to work at the Warren Blacking Factory from the workhouse and he constantly strived to help his father keep out of debt throughout his life.
Charles’s first love was the theatre and he wanted to be an actor but turned to writing in order to make some money. He always wrote on A5 paper with a goose quill pen!
He married Catharine Hogarth in London in 1826 and they had 10 children. Dickens constantly moved from area to area and house to house and the whole family, plus Catherine’s sister (who managed the household) had to move each time as well.
Dickens started his writing in monthly chronicles or magazines and his work was serialised over a number of issues. His first ‘whole’ book appeared in 1741 when he wrote A Christmas Carol which was published just 6 weeks before Christmas.
Dickens met Ellen Ternam in 1859 and this love broke up his marriage.
Dickens first visit to Liverpool was in 1840 when the Cunard first passenger ship was making her maiden voyage. As a port Dickens would visit Liverpool whenever he wanted to travel and he always stayed in the Adelphi Hotel. Our current Adelphi is the third to be built on the same site.
Dickens appeared many times as an actor in Liverpool appearing at the Mechanics Institute (now LIPA), the Theatre Royal (which used to be in Williamson Square, the Amphitheatre ( Queens Square) and the original Philharmonic Hall. However when the grand St Georges Hall was built Dickens then started his readings in the new and palatial Small Concert Hall there.
On an interesting note, Dickens also came to Liverpool to research life near a dock land, but as he didn’t feel too safe, he went to the nearest Bridewell and borrowed a constables uniform to wear!!
An excellent talk Dianne, many thanks