Lockdown research uncovers the true identities of two Dickens’ characters, and they lived in Bonchurch

This lockdown project has uncovered that two of Charles Dickens’ characters were based on real Bonchurch residents. See within

Ink and quill

As part of a lockdown project, a group of Islanders have uncovered the identity of two Charles Dickens characters, which they believe are based on former Bonchurch residents, and have created a fabulous literary walk in the process. 

It’s well-known among Islanders that 172 years ago the Victorian author, Charles Dickens, spent a summer based in Bonchurch, the quaint village a ten minute walk from the town of Ventnor on the south side of the Isle of Wight.

During this time, as well as during his previous visit nine years earlier, Dickens got to know many of the local residents.

Lockdown research
Alan Cartwright, who owns Haviland Cottage in Madeira Road, called on the help of Vic King, Ventnor Heritage Centre, Bonchurch Community Association, members of the Charles Dickens Fellowship, and many more for his research project.

The outcome from this work has led Alan to believe that the characters Mr Dick from David Copperfield, and Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, were both based on genuine Bonchurch residents.

Who were they?
Dickens is reported to have written chapter 13 of David Copperfield when he arrived at Winterbourne, the grand property next to East Dene where he stayed in the summer of 1849.

Alan believes that Mr Dick is based on Samuel Dick who lived in Uppermount, Bonchurch.

He also believes that Mr Dick’s daughter, Margaret Catherine Dick, was the real life Miss Havisham.

Find out more
Head over to Alan’s Website to read the detail of his research and how he uncovered the true identities of Mr Dick and Miss Havisham.

It’s a fascinating read!

Image: Pierre Bamin under CC BY 2.0

Sunday, 4th April, 2021 10:45am


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Filed under: Bonchurch, Isle of Wight News, The Arts, Top story, Ventnor, Writers

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1 Comment on "Lockdown research uncovers the true identities of two Dickens’ characters, and they lived in Bonchurch"

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Charles Dickens wrote 5 chapters of David Copperfield when he lived at Winterbourne in Bonchurch. Dickens description of the moon on the Thames, was inspired by what he saw through Winterbourne’s windows when a full moon illuminated the Channel. Richard J. Hutchings who wrote the excellent book: ‘Dickens on the Island’ (first published in 1970) writes about the Bonchurch residents who likely inspired Dickens’ characters. Worth a… Read more »