Georgina Hogarth was born on 22nd January 1827 at 2 Nelson Street, Edinburgh. Georgina was one of ten children, including Catherine Hogarth (1815) and Mary Hogarth (1819). Her father, George Hogarth, was a talented writer and worked as a journalist for the Edinburgh Courant.
In 1830 Hogarth and his family moved to London in order to develop his career as a writer. Claire Tomalin has argued: "He decided to move south, using his knowledge of music and literature to help him find work as a journalist and critic. At first he worked for Harmonicon . In 1831 Hogarth went to Exeter to edit the tory Western Luminary , and in the following year he moved to Halifax as the first editor of the Halifax Guardian. He supplemented his income by doing some teaching in the town. In 1834 George Hogarth returned to London and was engaged by the The Morning Chronicle as a writer on political and musical subjects. The following year he was appointed as editor of The Evening Chronicle .
George Hogarth became friends with Charles Dickens and commissioned him to write a series of stories under the pseudonym "Boz". Hogarth invited Dickens to visit him at his home in Kensington. The author of Dickens: A Life (2011) has pointed out: "Hogarth... had a large and still growing family, and when he (Dickens) made his first visit to their house on the Fulham Road, surrounded by gardens and orchards, he met their eldest daughter, nineteen-year-old Catherine. Her unaffectedness appealed to him at once, and her being different from the young woman he had known, not only in being Scottish but in coming from an educated family background with literary connections. The Hogarths, like the Beadnells, were a cut above the Dickens family, but they welcomed Dickens warmly as an equal, and George Hogarth's enthusiasm for his work was flattering."
Georgina later recalled that Dickens enjoyed "some delightful musical evenings" where her father performed upon the violoncello. According to Georgina, on one occasion, Dickens "dressed as a sailor jumped in at the window, danced a hornpipe, whistling the tune jumped out again, and a few minutes later Dickens walked gravely in at the door, as if nothing had happened, shook hands all round, and then, at the sight of their puzzled faces, burst into a roar of laughter."
Charles Dickens married Catherine Hogarth on 2nd April, 1836, at Lukes Church, Chelsea. After a wedding breakfast at her parents, they went on honeymoon to the village of Chalk, near Gravesend. Dickens wanted to show Catherine the countryside of his childhood. However, he discovered that his wife did not share his passion for long, fast walks. As one biographer put it: "Writing was necessarily his primary occupation, and hers must be to please him as best she could within the limitations of her energy: writing desk and walking boots for him, sofa and domesticity for her."
The couple lived in Furnival's Inn where Dickens had rented three rooms. Mary Hogarth moved in with them when the arrived back after their honeymoon. She stayed for a month but friends said that she always seemed be with Catherine in her new home. Dickens later wrote: "From the day of our marriage, the dear girl had been the grace and life of our home, our constant companion, and the sharer of all our little pleasures."
Catherine Dickens had her first child, Charles Culliford Dickens, in January, 1837. She had difficulty feeding the baby and gave up trying. A wet nurse was found but Mary believed that her sister was suffering from depression: "Every time she (Catherine) sees her baby she has a fit of crying and keeps constantly saying she is sure he (Charles Dickens) will not care for her now she is not able to nurse him."
On 6th May, 1837, Charles, Catherine and Mary Hogarth went to the St James's Theatre to see the play, Is She His Wife ? They went to bed at about one in the morning. Mary went to her room but, before she could undress, gave a cry and collapsed. A doctor was called but was unable to help. Dickens later recalled: "Mary... died in such a calm and gentle sleep, that although I had held her in my arms for some time before, when she was certainly living (for she swallowed a little brandy from my hand) I continued to support her lifeless form, long after her soul had fled to Heaven. This was about three o'clock on the Sunday afternoon." Dickens later recalled: "Thank God she died in my arms and the very last words she whispered were of me." The doctor who treated her believed that she must have had undiagnosed heart problems. Catherine was so shocked by the death of her younger sister that she suffered a miscarriage a few days later.
Peter Ackroyd has argued: "His grief was so intense, in fact, that it represented the most powerful sense of loss and pain he was ever to experience. The deaths of his own parents and children were not to affect him half so much and in his mood of obsessive pain, amounting almost to hysteria, one senses the essential strangeness of the man... It has been surmised that all along Dickens had felt a passionate attachment for her and that her death seemed to him some form of retribution for his unannounced sexual desire - that he had, in a sense, killed her."
Charles Dickens cut off a lock of Mary's hair and kept it in a special case. He also took a ring off her finger and put it on his own, and there it stayed for the rest of his life. Dickens also expressed a wish to be buried with her in the same grave. He also kept all of Mary's clothes and said a couple of years later that "they will moulder away in their secret places". Dickens wrote that he consoled himself "above all... by the thought of one day joining her again where sorrow and separation are unknown". He was so upset by Mary's death that for the first and last time in his life he missed his deadlines and the episodes of The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist which were supposed to be written during that month were postponed.
Over the next few years Catherine Dickens gave birth to Mamie (6th March, 1838), Kate Macready (29th October, 1839) and Walter Landor ( 8th February, 1841). In 1842 Georgina Hogarth moved in to help her sister cope with the four young children. Claire Tomalin , the author of Dickens: A Life (2011), has pointed out: "They had acquired a new member: fifteen-year-old Georgina, another Hogarth sister, blue-eyed, pretty, bright and scarcely out of the schoolroom. She was to have no further education but would join in caring for the Dickens children, rewarded by sharing in the life of the household, with its many pleasures and holidays."
Lucinda Hawksley has argued: "Georgina was to figure very largely in the Dickens children's lives. She assisted with their schooling, cared for them when their parents were absent and became their confidante. Her facial similarity to her dead sister was often remarked upon and, when she arrived to live in Devonshire Terrace, she was almost the same age Mary had been when she had stayed with Catherine and Charles... It is unknown how long Georgina's stay was originally intended to be, but before long she had become accepted as a permanent fixture."
Arthur A. Adrian, in his sympathetic biography, Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle (1957), has suggested: "Though Georgina spent much of her day with the little ones, she was, despite her youth, treated as an adult. Socially inexperienced as yet, but fully aware of her distinguished brother-in-law's position, she strove to make herself acceptable in a circle dominated by an aristocracy of talent and an exuberance of spirit, a combination which she came increasingly to admire.... All the Dickens circle seemed quick to recognize the, charm of this responsive blue-eyed girl."
As Michael Slater, the author of Charles Dickens: A life Defined by Writing (2011) has argued: "Georgina went to live with them and began making herself useful to her sister in running the household and coping with the busy social life that centred on Catherine's celebrated husband. She helped especially with the ever increasing number of children, and taught the younger boys to read before they went to school. She deputized for her sister on social occasions when Catherine was unwell and looked after the family during Catherine's pregnancies. Dickens came increasingly to value Georgina's companionship (she was one of the few people who could keep pace with him on his long daily walks). He admired her intelligence and enjoyed her gift for mimicry." Charles Dickens also recorded that he thought Georgina was "one of the most amiable and affectionate of girls."
Catherine also had several miscarriages before Francis Jeffrey, was born on 15th January, 1844. He was followed by Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson (28th October, 1845), named after the poet, Alfred Tennyson, Sydney Smith Haldimand (18th April, 1847), Henry Fielding Dickens (16th January, 1849), Dora Annie Dickens (16th August, 1850) and Edward Bulwer Lytton (13th March 1852).
Augustus Leopold Egg had been in love with Georgina for several years before he asked her to marry him. Claire Tomalin has commented: "He (Egg) was a handsome and sweet-natured man, a good friend of Dickens and a successful painter who could well afford to support a wife, but although she liked him she turned him down... Georgina, after nine years with the Dickens family, was too much in thrall to his charm and energy to consider any alternative to her position in his life. She was still his pet at twenty-four, but she was a pet with a steely centre, and in the organization of the household her voice was second only to his, and poor ailing Catherine let her rule."
Dickens wrote to Angela Burdett Coutts, about Georgina decision to reject Egg. He said he "urged her to be quite sure that she knew her own mind". He admitted that Egg was not her intellectual equal, but then, not one man in five was, for she had one of the "most remarkable capacities" he had ever known and was, moreover, "one of the most amiable and affectionate of girls". Dickens then went on to say: "Whether it is, or is not a pity that she is all she is to me and mine instead of brightening up a good little man's house where she would still have the artist kind of life she is used to, about her, is a knotty point I can never settle to my satisfaction. And I have been trying to untwist it in my mind on the road here, until it will persist in ravelling itself out on this paper."
Arthur A. Adrian, the author of Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle (1957) has speculated: "Was it attachment for her brother-in-law that made Georgina reject Augustus Egg and any suitor who may have followed him? There is no evidence that she thought of Dickens with romantic ardour. If she knowingly hid any such love in her heart, sublimating it in sisterly devotion and service, she naturally would not have confessed it. Modern psychology tends, of course, to find in sex, conscious or not, the only drive powerful enough to motivate such life-long obsession as this woman's. But of psychoanalysis she lived and died unaware. For Georgina Hogarth it sufficed that Charles Dickens was the major planet in her sky, and she, his satellite, had to move in an orbit fixed by his."
In April 1856 Dickens wrote to John Forster in reference to his wife: "I find that the skeleton in my domestic closet is becoming a pretty big one." He also said that he feared that "one happiness I have missed in life, and one friend and companion I have never made." Dickens disliked the way his wife had put on weight. He told Wilkie Collins how he had taken her to his favourite Paris restaurant where she ate so much that she "nearly killed herself".
In August 1857 Dickens met Nellie Ternan. Two months later he moved out of the master bedroom and now slept alone in a single bed. At the same time he wrote to Emile De La Rue in Genoa, saying that Catherine was insanely jealous of his friendships and that she was unable to get on with her children. He wrote to other friends complaining of Catherine's "weaknesses and jealousies" and that she was suffering from a "confused mind".
Rumours began to circulate at the Garrick Club that Dickens was having an affair with Georgina Hogarth. As Dickens, biographer, Peter Ackroyd, points out: "There were rumours... that he was having an affair with his own sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth. That she had given birth to his children. More astonishing still, it seems likely that these rumours about Georgina were in fact started or at least not repudiated by the Hogarths themselves." George Hogarth wrote a letter to his solicitor in which he assured him: "The report that I or my wife or daughter have at any time stated or insinuated that any impropriety of conduct had taken place between my daughter Georgina and her brother-in-law Charles Dickens is totally and entirely unfounded."
The author of The Invisible Woman (1990) argues: "The idea of a member of the Garrick Club so distinguished for his celebration of the domestic virtues being caught out in a love affair with a young sister-in-law was certainly scandalous enough to cause a stir of excitement." William Makepeace Thackeray , who was a close friend of Dickens, claimed that he was not having an affair with Georgina but "with an actress".
Helen Hogarth became convinced that Dickens was having a sexual relationship with Georgina and that this created a terrible rift in the family. Georgina's aunt, Helen Thomson, commented: "Georgina is an enthusiast, and worships Dickens as a man of genius, and has quarrelled with all her relatives because they dared to find fault with him, saying, 'a man of genius ought not to be judged with the common herd of men'. She must bitterly repent, when she recovers from her delusion, her folly; her vanity is no doubt flattered by his praise, but she has disappointed us all."
Peter Ackroyd has argued in Dickens (1990): "Events were now slipping even further out of Dickens's control, and it was at some point in these crucial days that Mrs Hogarth seems to have threatened Dickens with action in the Divorce Court - a very serious step indeed since the Divorce Act of the previous year had decreed that wives could divorce their husbands only on the grounds of incest, bigamy or cruelty. The clear implication here was that Dickens had committed incest with Georgina, which was the legal term for sexual relations with a sister-in-law.... At this point, it seems, the Hogarths implicitly dropped the threat of court action. Yet the bare facts of the matter can hardly suggest the maelstrom of fury and bitterness into which the family, now divided against itself, had descended."
In May 1858, Catherine Dickens accidentally received a bracelet meant for Ellen Ternan. Her daughter, Kate Dickens, says her mother was distraught by the incident. Charles Dickens responded by a meeting with his solicitors. By the end of the month he negotiated a settlement where Catherine should have £400 a year and a carriage and the children would live with Dickens. Later, the children insisted they had been forced to live with their father.
Charles Culliford Dickens refused and decided that he would live with his mother. He told his father in a letter: "Don't suppose that in making my choice, I was actuated by any feeling of preference for my mother to you. God knows I love you dearly, and it will be a hard day for me when I have to part from you and the girls. But in doing as I have done, I hope I am doing my duty, and that you will understand it so."
On 25th May, 1858, Dickens issued a statement: "From the age of fifteen she (Georgina Hogarth) has devoted herself to our home and our children. She has been their playmate. nurse, instructress, friend, protectress, adviser and companion. In the manly consideration toward Mrs. Dickens which I owe to my wife. I will merely remark of her that the 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."
Six days later Georgina wrote to Maria Winter: "For my sister and Charles have lived unhappily for years - they were totally unsuited to each other in almost every respect - and as the children grew up this unsuitability developed itself more strongly and disagreements and miseries which used to be easily kept out of sight have forced themselves into notice. Unhappily, also, by some constitutional misfortune and incapacity, my sister always, from their infancy, threw her children upon other people, consequently as they grew up there was not the usual strong tie between them and her in short, for many years; although we have put a good face upon it, we have been very miserable at home. My sister has often expressed a desire to go and live away, but Charles never agreed to it on the girls' account; but latterly he thought it must be to their advantage as well as to his own and Catherine's to consent to this and remodel their unhappy home."
Lucinda Hawksley has asked some important questions about Georgina's behaviour during this period: "Georgina Hogarth's role during this tumultuous time will for ever remain a conundrum. When Charles decided to separate from Catherine, the wronged wife's family rallied round her, as could be expected - all of the Hogarths, that is, except for Georgina. It appears that from the start Catherine's closest sister (since Mary's death), who had shared her home and her life for so many years, did not take Catherine's side, nor offer her any form of support. Instead, she elected to stay living with her brother-in-law, as his housekeeper, after he had rejected and humiliated her sister. Why she chose to be shunned by her parents, grandparents and siblings in order to stay with her sister's husband has never been satisfactorily explained; nor how she could be so deliberately cruel to Catherine."
Charles Dickens wrote to Angela Burdett-Coutts about his marriage to Catherine: "We have been virtually separated for a long time. We must put a wider space between us now, than can be found in one house... If the children loved her, or ever had loved her, this severance would have been a far easier thing than it is. But she has never attached one of them to herself, never played with them in their infancy, never attracted their confidence as they have grown older, never presented herself before them in the aspect of a mother."
Dickens claimed that Mrs Hogarth and her daughter, Helen Hogarth, had spread rumours about his relationship with Georgina . Dickens insisted that Mrs Hogarth sign a statement withdrawing her claim that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with Georgina. In return, he would raise Catherine's annual income to £600. On 29th May, 1858, Mrs Hogarth and Helen Hogarth reluctantly put their names to a document which said in part: "Certain statements have been circulated that such differences are occasioned by circumstances deeply affecting the moral character of Mr. Dickens and compromising the reputation and good name of others, we solemnly declare that we now disbelieve such statements." They also promised not to take any legal action against Dickens.
On the signing of the settlement, Catherine Hogarth Dickens found temporary accommodation in Brighton, with her eldest son, Charles Culliford Dickens. Later that year she moved to a house in Gloucester Crescent near Regent's Park. Dickens automatically got the right to take away 8 out of the 9 children from his wife (the eldest son who was over 21 was free to stay with his mother). Under the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act, Catherine Dickens could only keep the children she had to charge him with adultery as well as bigamy, incest, sodomy or cruelty.
Charles Dickens now moved back to Tavistock House with Georgina, Mamie Dickens, Walter Landor Dickens, Henry Fielding Dickens, Francis Jeffrey Dickens, Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson, Sydney Smith Haldimand and Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens. Mamie and Georgina were put in command of the servants and household management.
In June, 1858, Charles Dickens decided to issue a statement to the press about the rumours involving him and two unnamed women (Nellie Ternan and Georgina Hogarth): "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 the occasion of misrepresentations, mostly 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."
Dickens also made reference to his problems with Catherine: " 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 to be forgotten by those concerned in it."
The statement was published in The Times and Household Words. However, Punch Magazine, edited by his great friend, Mark Lemon, refused, bringing an end to their long friendship. William Makepeace Thackeray also took the side of Catherine and he was also banned from the house. Dickens was so upset that he insisted that his daughters, Mamie Dickens and Kate Dickens, brought an end to their friendship with the children of Lemon and Thackeray. Despite these attempts to cover up his affairs, Dickens was forced to resign from the Garrick Club.
Dickens also wrote to Charles Culliford Dickens insisting that none of the children should "utter one word to their grandmother" or to Catherine's sister, Helen Hogarth, who had also been accused of talking falsely about his relationship with Ternan: "If they are ever brought into the presence of either of these two, I charge them immediately to leave their mother's house and come back to me." Kate Dickens later recalled: "My father was like a madman... This affair brought out all that was worst - all that was weakest in him. He did not care a damn what happened to any of us. Nothing could surpass the misery and unhappiness of our home."
On 16th August, The New York Tribune, published a letter from Dickens that stated that the marriage had been unhappy for many years and that Georgina Hogarth was responsible for long preventing a separation by her care for the children: "She has remonstrated, reasoned, suffered and toiled, again and again to prevent a separation between Mrs Dickens and me."
In the letter Charles Dickens suggested that Catherine Dickens had suggested the separation: "Her always increasing estrangement made a mental disorder under which she sometimes labours - more, that she felt herself unfit for the life she had to lead as my wife and that she would be better far away." The letter goes on to boast of his financial generosity to his wife. He then went onto praise Georgina as having a higher claim on his affection, respect and gratitude than anybody in the world."
Peter Ackroyd has argued in Dickens (1990): " Yet the bare facts of the matter can hardly suggest the maelstrom of fury and bitterness into which the family, now divided against itself, had descended. And what of Dickens himself? From the beginning he had tried to keep everything as neat and as ordered as everything else in his life, but it had spiralled out of control. The case for an informal separation had degenerated into a series of formal negotiations which in turn threatened to lead to public exposure of his domestic life; he, the apostle of family harmony, had even been accused of incest with his own wife's sister. He reacted badly to stress and now, during the most anxious days of his life, he ceased to behave in a wholly rational manner."
Dickens raised the issue of Mrs Hogarth and her daughter Helen and the comments they had supposed to have made about Nellie Ternan : "Two wicked persons who should have spoken very differently of me... have... coupled with this separation the name of a young lady for whom I have a great attachment and regard. I will not repeat her name - I honour it too much. Upon my soul and honour, there is not on this earth a more virtuous and spotless creature than this young lady. I know her to be as innocent and pure, and as good as my own dear daughters."
Elizabeth Gaskell and William Makepeace Thackeray believed that publicizing his domestic problems was as bad as the separation itself. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was appalled by his behaviour: "What a crime, for a man to use his genius as a cudgel against his near kin, even against the woman he promised to protect tenderly with life and heart - taking advantage of his hold with the public to turn public opinion against her. I call it dreadful." Kate Dickens later recalled that her father stopped speaking to her for two years when he discovered she had visited her mother. Catherine wrote to Angela Burdett-Coutts: "I have now - God help me - only one course to pursue. One day though not now I may be able to tell you how hardly I have been used."
Georgina Hogarth backed up Dickens's story. In a letter to Maria Winter, Georgina argued: "By some constitutional misfortune and incapacity, my sister always from their infancy, threw her children upon other people, consequently as they grew up, there was not the usual strong tie between them and her - in short, for many years, although we have put a good face upon it, we have been very miserable at home." Hans Christian Anderson, who met Georgina when he stayed in the Dickens household, described her as "piquante, lively and gifted, but not kind" who often made Catherine cry.
Michael Slater, the author of Charles Dickens: A life Defined by Writing (2011) has argued: "When the break finally came she elected to remain with Dickens, outfacing scandal and her mother's angry opposition... For the remainder of Dickens's life she ran his home at Gad's Hill, nominally in consort with his elder daughter Mary (Mamie), and supported him in dealing with family problems such as the frequent financial embarrassments and failures of various of his sons." Gladys Storey, who interviewed Kate Dickens, before she wrote her book, Dickens and Daughter (1939): "At one period it was an outside opinion that he was in love with her; that opinion was purely supposition; though there is no doubt she possessed a great love for him. He had an affection for her and a deep appreciation for services rendered, so to speak."
It has been claimed that Georgina gave birth to a child fathered by Charles Dickens in 1854. Claire Tomalin , in her book, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (1991), has argued: "From time to time people have turned up claiming to be children or descendants of Dickens through women other than his wife. The most persistent case is that of a man called Charley Peters... He said his name was Hector Charles Bulwer Lytton Dickens, and that he was the child of Georgina Hogarth by Dickens." However, Tomalin is not convinced by the story and suggests that Peters was an Australian conman.
Georgina Hogarth appeared to be a healthy 34-year-old, but in 1862 she became ill and her doctor diagnosed her as having "degeneration of the heart". Dickens took her to Paris for a holiday and by 1863 she told a friend that she was "almost quite well". Her biographer, Arthur Adrian, the author of Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle (1957), has suggested that she may have been suffering from a psychosomatic illness.
James T. Fields and Annie Fields visited England in May, 1868. Charles Dickens took a suite for himself in the St James's Hotel in Piccadilly in order to show them the sights of London, Windsor and Richmond. The couple also visited Gad's Hill Place and met Georgina Kate Dickens and Mamie Dickens. Fields later commented: "There is no prettier place than Gad's Hill in all England for the earliest and latest flowers, and Dickens chose it, when he had arrived at the fulness of his fame and prosperity, as the home in which he most wished to spend the remainder of his days."
On her return to Boston Annie began a regular correspondance with Georgina. In February 1870, Annie wrote in her diary: "Nobody can say how much too much of this the children have to bear and to how little purpose poor Miss Hogarth spends her life hoping to comfort and care for him. I never felt more keenly her anomalous and unnatural position in the household. Not one mentioned her name; they could not have, I suppose, lest they might do her wrong. Ah, how sad a name it must be to those who love him best. Dear, dear Dickens."
Charles Dickens died on 8th June, 1870. The traditional version of his death was given by his official biographer, John Forster. He claimed that Dickens was having dinner with Georgina at Gad's Hill Place when he fell to the floor: "Her effort then was to get him on the sofa, but after a slight struggle he sank heavily on his left side... It was now a little over ten minutes past six o'clock. His two daughters came that night with Mr. Frank Beard, who had also been telegraphed for, and whom they met at the station. His eldest son arrived early next morning, and was joined in the evening (too late) by his youngest son from Cambridge. All possible medical aid had been summoned. The surgeon of the neighbourhood (Stephen Steele) was there from the first, and a physician from London (Russell Reynolds) was in attendance as well as Mr. Beard. But human help was unavailing. There was effusion on the brain."
After the publication of her book, The Invisible Woman (1990), Claire Tomalin received a letter from J. C. Leeson, telling her a story that had been passed down in the family, originating with his highly respectable great-grandfather, a Nonconformist minister, J. Chetwode Postans, who became pastor of Lindon Grove Congregational Church in 1872. He was told later by the caretaker that Charles Dickens collapsed at Gad's Hill Place, but at another house "in compromising circumstances". Tomalin took a keen interest in this story as at the time, Ellen Ternan was living at nearby Windsor Lodge. After investigating all the evidence Tomalin has speculated that Dickens was taken ill while visiting the home he rented for Ternan. She then arranged for a horse-drawn vehicle to take Dickens to Gad's Hill.
The Times ran an editorial calling for Dickens to be buried in Westminster Abbey. This was readily accepted and on 14th June, 1870, his oak coffin was carried in a special train from Higham to Charing Cross Station. The family travelled on the same train and they were met by a plain hearse and three coaches. Only four of his children, Charles Culliford Dickens, Mamie Dickens, Kate Dickens Collins and Henry Fielding Dickens attended the funeral. George Augustus Sala gave the number of mourners as fourteen.
Dickens's last will and testament, dated 12th May 1869 was published on 22nd July. As Michael Slater has commented: "Like Dickens's novels, his last will has an attention-grabbing opening" as it referred to his mistress, Ellen Ternan. It stated: "I give the sum of £1,000 free of legacy duty to Miss Ellen Lawless Ternan, late of Houghton Place, Ampthill Square, in the county of Middlesex." It is assumed that he made other, more secret, financial arrangements for his mistress. For example, it is known that she received £60 a year from the house he owned in Houghton Place. According to her biographer, she was now a "woman approaching middle age, in delicate health, solitary and inured to dependence on a man who could give her neither an honourable position nor even steady companionship."
The total estate amounted to over £90,000. "I give the sum of £1,000 free of legacy duty to my daughter Mary Dickens. I also give to my said daughter an annuity of £300 a year, during her life, if she shall so long continue unmarried; such annuity to be considered as accruing from day to day, but to be payable half yearly, the first of such half yearly payments to be made at the expiration of six months next after my decease. If my said daughter Mary shall marry, such annuity shall cease; and in that case, but in that case only, my said daughter shall share with my other children in the provision hereinafter made for them."
Charles Dickens used the will to highlight the role that Georgina Hogarth had played in his life: "I give to my dear sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth the sum of £8,000 free of legacy duty. I also give to the said Georgina Hogarth all my personal jewellery not hereinafter mentioned, and all the little familiar objects from my writing-table and my room, and she will know what to do with those things. I also give to the said Georgina Hogarth all my private papers whatsoever and wheresoever, and I leave her my grateful blessing as the best and truest friend man ever had."
After the death of Charles Dickens Georgina returned to London and set up house with Mamie Dickens. She told her friend, Annie Fields on 21st February 1872: "I do not think the freshness of grief is the hardest to bear. It is the continuance of living without the thing that made life interesting and worth living." On the tragic death of Sydney Smith Dickens in 1872, Georgina resumed contact with her sister, Catherine Dickens. She also became a regular visitor to her house in Gloucester Crescent near Regent's Park.
Charles Culliford Dickens upset Georgina when he decided to buy Gad's Hill Place when it went up for auction. As Arthur A. Adrian, the author of Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle (1957) has pointed out: "To raise the purchase price of Gad's Hill, he had mortgaged the place for £5,000 and added another £3,000 from his share of the estate. Burdened with the support of a large family, forced to maintain a costly house, and faced with diminishing income from a journal that had once flourished because of his father's prestige, he stood on perilous ground."
To raise money Charley decided to exhibit the chalet, where Dickens did his writing, all over England. On reading in a newspaper that the hallowed little building had already been moved to the Crystal Palace for this purpose, Georgina became frantic and wrote to Annie Fields: "I cannot imagine how Charley could do such an indecent action. Also, I maintain that he had no right, to do it - without consulting the family. Legally, of course it was his own as he bought the property - but morally, he had no business to compromise us all... because when this dear sacred little place where his Father spent his last living day comes to be puffed and hawked about, all his family will be held responsible - and will be disgraced by it."
In 1879 Charles Culliford Dickens was so desperately short of money he was forced to sell Gad's Hill Place and move into the office in Wellington Street and farm out six of the seven children among relatives. Peter Ackroyd has argued: "He (Charley) had inherited his father's love of order and neatness, but in no other respect did he resemble him. He was dutiful but suffered from a certain lassitude of spirit which was, in the end, to lead him into precisely the kind of financial calamities which his own father dreaded."
Catherine Hogarth Dickens suffered from cancer and on her deathbed she gave her collection of letters from her husband to her daughter, Kate Dickens Perugini: "Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once". She died on 22nd November 1879 and is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London. In her will she bequeathed Georgina "my snake ring". Lucinda Hawksley author of Katey: The Life and Loves of Dickens's Artist Daughter (2006): "Perhaps it was an item she knew Georgina admired; on the other hand, there are grounds for believing that the snake emblem was Catherine's poignant comment on how she viewed her younger sister."
After Catherine's death, Georgina began work, assisted by Mamie Dickens, on a selected edition of Dickens's letters. In 1879 she destroyed many family letters that she decided should not be included. The first two volumes appeared in 1880, followed by a third in 1882. The letters chosen for inclusion were, Georgina wrote, "cut and condensed remorselessly" and ones touching on private and personal matters were excluded and often destroyed.
Georgina found living with Mamie Dickens difficult, complaining that she was drinking too much. In the late 1880s she persuaded Mamie to move to Manchester where she lived with a clergyman and his wife. Georgina's income declined during her eighties and she was forced to sell letters and memorabilia to keep her going. Nursed by Kate Dickens Perugini, she suffered from dementia in her last few years.