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In 1832 Dickens started work as a reporter on his uncle Thomas Barrow’s newspaper The Mirror of Parliament. He was also toying with the idea of becoming an actor and was granted an audition at the Covent Garden Theatre. However, on the appointed day, he was stricken with a “... a terrible bad cold and inflammation of the face...” and so was unable to attend his audition. “See how near I may have been to another sort of life,” he later told John Forster. However, his love of the theatre and his wish to act stayed with him for the rest of his life and, in later life, he would enthusiastically perform and produce his amateur theatricals and, from these, evolved his public reading tours from which he had become famous throughout the world by the time of his death in 1870. Maria Beadnell’s family were beginning to disapprove of their daughter’s involvement with the young and impoverished
reporter and, to get her way the from him, they sent her to finishin
school in France. When she returned her enthusiasm for Dickens had cooled considerably and Dickens was devastated when, in May 1833, she ended their relationship. Spurred on by Maria Beadnell’s rejection, Dickens threw himself into his writing and, in the autumn of 1833, his first story A Dinner at Poplar Walk was published.
By 1834 Dickens had settled into lodgings at Furnival’s Inn, Holborn. He had also found employment with the Morning Chronicle newspaper and had become friends with its music critic George Hogarth.When, in 1835, George Hogarth became editor of the Evening Chronicle, he asked Dickens to contribute sketches to the paper. These would eventually appear in print as Sketches by ‘Boz’.
Dickens also fell in love with Hogarth’s daughter, Catherine, and, on 2nd April, 1836, the two were married at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea. After a brief honeymoon in Kent, Charles and Catherine Dickens settled into his chambers at Furnival’s Inns where they were joined by Catherine’s 17-year-old sister, Mary Hogarth. By this time the first instalment of Pickwick Papers had appeared. There was an early setback when its originator and illustrator, Robert Seymour, committed suicide. But Dickens managed to continue writing the work and Hablot Browne, who for the next 20 years remained Dickens’s chief illustrator, replaced Seymour as illustrator.

Until tomorrow: No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.

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Dorothy Prats
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