The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

 
 
 
Henry Fielding Dickens

Henry Fielding Dickens


A cabinet card portrait of Henry Fielding Dickens (1849-1933), later Sir Henry Dickens, the eighth of ten children born to British author Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine. The most successful of all of Dickens's children, he was a barrister, a KC and Common Serjeant of London, a senior legal office that he held for over 15 years.

Named after Henry Fielding, one of his father's favourite authors, he was educated at Wimbledon School and at Mr Gibson's boarding school in Boulogne-sur-Mer, along with his brothers Alfred and Sydney. He became the only one of Dickens's six sons to attend university.

Called to the Bar 1873, in 1892 he was appointed Queen's Counsel. In 1899 he became a Bencher of the Inner Temple. On one occasion Dickens was judging a case when the prisoner interrupted him by saying ‘You ain't a patch on your father.’ ‘I quite agree with you. What do you know of my father?’ Dickens replied. The prisoner answered ‘Well, I have read some in prison.’ ‘Have you?’ Dickens replied, ‘that's capital; for you will now have eighteen months in which to resume your studies.’

At family Christmas gatherings at his home at 8 Mulberry Walk in London he performed imitations of his father giving his famous ‘Readings’, during which he would wear a geranium, his father's favourite flower, and lean on the same velvet-covered reading stand used by Charles Dickens during his reading tours. He had listened to his father many times, and older members of his audience said Henry Dickens's performances were amazingly like those given by his father. To celebrate his eightieth birthday in 1929 he went through the whole of A Christmas Carol without a hitch, although his false teeth loosened during the more melodramatic sections.

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.

Photographed by Russell and Sons of London and Windsor.

 

Code: 125729
 
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© Paul Frecker 2018