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date: 18 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter treats the two most contested episodes in Dickens biography, his stint as a child labourer at Warren’s Blacking in 1824, and the breakup of his marriage to Catherine Hogarth Dickens in 1858. Both occasions prompted Dickens to write autobiographically in ways intended to control the way his life would be interpreted by others. The blacking warehouse memories were shaped some 20 years after the childhood experience in a document privately given to John Forster. The banishment of Catherine was written up in the heat of the moment, in letters to friends and justifications published in newspapers. The circumstances were very different, yet both these attempts at information control help to shed light on Dickens’s characteristic ways of managing his image, and on the subsequent evolution of Dickens biography.

Keywords: Warren’s Blacking, Dickens biographers, autobiographical fragment, Fanny Dickens Burnett, Catherine Hogarth Dickens, marriage breakup

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