By Norman Page (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Dickens Companion
In 1837 he married CD's younger sister Letitia, and the couple often joined the Dickens family at home or on holiday. Austin was an architect who directed alterations carried out at Tavistock House and Gad's Hill. As Secretary of the Sanitary Commission he provided CD with material for a series of articles in HW on this topic. CD wrote numerous letters to him. BARROW, CHARLES (1759-1826), CD's maternal grandfather, was Chief Conductor of Moneys in the Navy Pay Office. His wife was born Mary Culliford.
She taught him to read and tried unsuccessfully to start a school. CD felt bitterly about her wish that he should be sent back to the blacking warehouse after his father had terminated his employment there. He portrayed her as Mrs Nickleby in Nicholas Nickleby. She became senile in old age. DICKENs, FRANCES ELIZABETH (Fanny), sister of CD and the eldest child ofher parents, was born on 28 October I8IO. As a child she sang comic songs with CD. She won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, did well there, and was launched on a musical career.
CD 'became the guiding conscience of her philanthropic career, and she the power through which Dickens was to bring about many a practical achievement in which the world did not even suspect his hidden hand' (Johnson). In 1843 he investigated the Field Lane Ragged School for her and wrote her a long, vivid and moving letter describing the appalling conditions: the premises were 'like an ugly dream', but 'the moral courage of the teachers is beyond all praise . . ' CD was not optimistic about the response to a public appeal ('There is a kind of delicacy which is not at all shocked by the existence of such things, but is excessively shocked to know of them'); but he urged Miss Coutts to come to the rescue ('I deem it an experiment most worthy of your charitable hand'), and threw himself energetically into the practical details of amelioration, including 'a good supply of running water, soap, and towels'.