Revealed: Charles Dickens’ devious bid to send his wife to a mental asylum after he fell for young actress is exposed in 160-year-old letter from his ex-spouse’s friend. Emer Scully For Mailonline explores what this letter could mean.
During the break down of a marriage most couples simply agree to go their separate ways.
But Charles Dickens was so desperate to avoid the disapproval of Victorian society if his ageing wife moved out he tried to commit her to a mental asylum, according to a 160-year-old letter.
The damning letter, written by a friend of the literary mastermind’s estranged wife, revealed he was so dissatisfied with his marriage to Catherine Dickens he asked a doctor to diagnose her as insane.
But Catherine was perfectly sound of mind and the medical professional refused to commit her.
Edward Dutton Cook, a novelist and drama critic, lived next door to Charles Dickens’s estranged wife.
And Catherine told Edward and his wife Lynda her husband had ‘tried to shut her up in an insane asylum.’
Claire Tomalin, author of Charles Dickens: A life, believes it was actually Charles Dickens who was insane as his life was a mess at the time of the separation.
She told MailOnline: ‘I think during this period he was mad effectively and their lives were thrown into turmoil.
‘He was an exceptionally good man and relied on his reputation for goodness with the public.
‘But when this all came up he fell in love and his life was a mess. He wrote to his friend Ms Coutts suggesting Catherine had mental problems and he saw it as a way of getting rid of her without seeming to be to blame.
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