Ever your affectionate Father, Charles Dickens
6 February 2012
Amongst the treasures of Trinity Hall's Old Library is a letter written in 1868 by Charles Dickens to his son Henry Fielding Dickens (1849 - 1933) who matriculated at Trinity Hall in October 1868 to read mathematics, receiving his BA in 1872 (29th wrangler). Henry Dickens was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1870 and was called to the Bar in 1873 becoming King’s Counsel in 1892 and appointed Common Serjeant of London (a senior judicial appointment at the Old Bailey) in 1917. Henry Fielding Dickens was the eighth of ten children born to Charles Dickens and was regarded as the most successful. He was appointed Knights Batchelor in 1922 and retired in August 1932. He died in 1933 two weeks after being hit by a motorcycle while crossing Chelsea Embankment at his usual place and by his usual method of warning motorists by holding up his walking stick and stepping out into the road. He was the last surviving child of Charles Dickens.
Henry Dickens is just one of the strong connections between Charles Dickens and the College. Dr Graham Storey (1921 - 2005), who read Law at Trinity Hall before becoming a Fellow in English in 1949, was the editor of the ten volumes of the Pilgrim Edition of The Letters of Charles Dickens (1965 - 98). Generations of Dickens scholars have subsequently been indebted to his scholarship.
Both the College's current Fellows in English, Alison Hennegan and Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm, teach and publish on Dickens's work. Dr Schramm's second book on Dickens's engagement with legal evidence and rhetoric, Atonement and Self-Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Narrative, will be published in June 2012 as part of the wider scholarly programme to commemorate the bicentenary of Dickens's birth.
The letter was given to Trinity Hall by Christopher Dickens, one of Henry's grandchildren, who was a student at Trinity Hall, matriculating in 1957.
For a transcript of the letter from Charles Dickens to his son Henry Dickens, please click here