Charles Dickens' Favorite Daughter: The Life, Loves, and Art of Katey Dickens Perugini

Overview

As the daughter of the most famous writer of the time, Katey Dickens enjoyed a high profile in Victorian society. She pursued her love of painting, acted in her father’s plays, socialized with the Thackerays, and modeled for painter John Everett Millais. This riveting biography finally sheds light on her extraordinary life both as a Dickens and an artist.

The turbulent family life in the Dickens household drove Katey to marry young. Her first husband was the ...

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Charles Dickens' Favorite Daughter: The Life, Loves, and Art of Katey Dickens Perugini

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Overview

As the daughter of the most famous writer of the time, Katey Dickens enjoyed a high profile in Victorian society. She pursued her love of painting, acted in her father’s plays, socialized with the Thackerays, and modeled for painter John Everett Millais. This riveting biography finally sheds light on her extraordinary life both as a Dickens and an artist.

The turbulent family life in the Dickens household drove Katey to marry young. Her first husband was the chronically ailing Charlie Collins, brother of the famous author Wilkie Collins. After Charlie’s untimely demise, the widowed Katey fell in love and married the handsome Italian artist Carlo Perugini. 

Charles Dickens lovingly nicknamed Katey “Lucifer Box” because of her fiery temper. In many ways, Katey was ahead of her time; she refused to be eclipsed by her father and fought to establish herself as an artist. She became renowned as a portrait painter and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. Katey lived to be almost ninety and her artistic prestige, which flourished during her lifetime, still persists to this day.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/21/2013
In this updated edition of the British Katey: the life and Loves of Dickens' Artist Daughter, Hawksley, the several times granddaughter of Dickens, attempts to do justice to the life of his daughter, Katey. At first, Dickens himself takes center stage, while Katey takes a strong supporting role along with the rest of her family. Katey's circle of friends included luminaries of the British artistic and literary world such as John Millais, William Thackery, and George Bernard Shaw. Katey doesn't emerge as the heroine until her marriage to Charles Collins, younger brother of author Wilkie, and even then she spends much of their marriage as his nursemaid rather than his lover. After Collins's untimely death, Katey marries Carlo Perugini and "it is from this time that Kate's career as an artist can truly be counted." Unfortunately for the author, few of Katey's paintings are currently in the public domain, so only four black and white plates of her work appear. Her liveliness, wit, and balancing periods of depression are vividly rendered, but much about her life remains a mystery. B&w photos, illus. (July)
From the Publisher

“This biography was well worth writing and is well worth reading. Katey has never had a book to herself, and she deserves one. The personality that comes through is ardent and likeable…. [Hawksley's] biography has the distinction of making you want to know more about its subject, rather than, as so often, less.”—John Carey in The Sunday Times

“Highly regarded artist with something of a flirty reputation … the feisty Katey as Lucinda Hawksley makes clear in her gripping biography could not have been less like the drippy and insipid love-object Victorian heroines of Dickens’s novels…. In old age, Katey entertained a stream of celebrities at her small London flat, including J.M. Barrie and George Bernard Shaw…. Katey’s [story] is fascinating and enthralling.” —Val Hennessy in the Daily Mail

Library Journal
Great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, Hawksley (Charles Dickens: Dickens' Bicentenary), a travel writer and Dickens lecturer, releases a revised edition of her 2006 biography of Katey Dickens, the first edition of which was only published in the UK. Rarely has a Dickens child been the sole subject of an extensive study, but perhaps it is fitting that "Dickens' favorite daughter" should be highlighted, as she lived quite a full life. From Katey's unconsummated first marriage to Wilkie Collins's brother Charlie (English novelist Collins was a lifelong friend of Dickens) through her second successful marriage, to Italian painter Carlo Perugini, Hawksley paints a colorful portrait of her subject's complex personality. Katey's insights into the lives of her siblings are revealed, as well as those in her social circle, from the Collinses and Thackerays to painters Frederic Leighton and John Everett Millais. As a sometime art historian (Essential Pre-Raphaelites), Hawksley illuminatingly analyzes Katey as a successful but financially struggling female painter. VERDICT Best suited for university libraries, Dickens scholars, feminists, and anyone interested in the lives of late Victorian women.—Lara Jacobs, Brooklyn
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762785216
  • Publisher: Lyons Press, The
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 379,242
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucinda Hawksley has written critically acclaimed biographies of Lizzie Siddal and Charles Dickens and is an award-winning travel writer. She lectures on art history and Charles Dickens, and makes regular TV and radio appearances. She teaches undergraduates at IES London and is a regular speaker at the National Portrait Gallery. Visit her website: www.lucindahawksley.com

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