Plorn dickens

Forlorn Plorn: The Dickens Boy, by Thomas Keneally, reviewed

Parents are always terrified of bad family history repeating itself. Prince Albert dreaded his son Bertie turning into a roué like his own father, and this of course happened. Charles Dickens had fantasised in David Copperfield that the jokey version of his own father — Mr Micawber — would become a success in life by going to Australia. In real life, Dickens’s parents had been ‘hopeless’, and as he watched his own family growing up, he had a heartless fear that his dud children would be versions of parents who were sent to the Marshalsea. Sure enough, Dickens sent two of his least promising sons to Australia, hoping something would