The forgotten wife of Charles Dickens

Catherine was an author, actress and cook - all of which was eclipsed by her marriage. Lucinda Hawksley, Catherine's great-great-great-granddaughter, explores who she really was.

In February 1835, Charles Dickens had a party for his 23rd birthday. Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of his magazine editor, was one of the guests. "Mr Dickens improves greatly on acquaintance," she wrote to her cousin after the party.

The improvement must have been dramatic: Catherine soon agreed to marry him. Their wedding took place in London on 2 April 1836.

It was a marriage that would be both very happy and desperately sad. Over the next 15 years, Catherine would go through 10 full-term pregnancies and at least two miscarriages.

And they went from a well-matched couple in love, enjoying parties and holidays together, to a couple unable to live in the same house.

In addition to being a mother, Catherine was an author, a very talented actress, an excellent cook and, in her husband's words, a superb travelling companion.

But as the wife of such a famous figure, all of that has been eclipsed.

With its new exhibition The Other Dickens, London's Charles Dickens Museum has given Catherine back her identity.

As the great-great-great-granddaughter of Catherine and Charles, I've done my own share of research on the couple and their family.

And I've come up with my own conclusions as to who Catherine really was - and what happened between her and Charles.

Much has been written about the Dickens's marriage and the very public separation that occurred in 1858.

In the early 20th Century, decades after both parties had died, the debate tended to be firmly on the side of Charles.

Unpleasant rumours were started about why he 'had' to separate from her, with the reasons including that Catherine was an alcoholic (she was not).

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