Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

The many rival identities of Charles Dickens

He was a bundle of contradictions, especially in his treatment of women, as A.N. Wilson’s exceptional study shows

William Powell Frith’s portrait of Dickens, aged 47. Jane Carlyle said that his face seemed ‘as if made of steel’ (Getty Images)

Already a subscriber? Log in

Election special offer

The stage is set. Grab a front-row seat with The Spectator. Subscribe and get 3 months for just £3 – plus a free election mug.

  • Weekly delivery of the magazine
  • Unlimited access to our website and app
  • Spectator newsletters and podcasts
  • Our online archive, going back to 1828


Want to join the debate?

Only subscribers can comment. Sign up and – in the run-up to the election – you’ll get the next three months for just £3.

Already a subscriber? Log in