The Mystery around Dickens’s Death

Image credit: Simon Burchell, CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1990, Claire Tomalin published The Invisible Woman, a biography of the actress Ellen Ternan, best known today for her secret relationship with Charles Dickens, which spanned the last thirteen years of his life. In her book, Tomalin suggested a new theory about the death of Dickens: that when he died in 1870, he may have collapsed at Ellen Ternan’s home in Peckham, rather than in his own house, Gad’s Hill Place in Kent.

In June 2020, the 150th anniversary of Dickens’s death, discussion was generated once again and Tomalin’s theory was revisited, reigniting furious debate. So, how do we deal with gaps in history, when no one who was alive at the time is available to corroborate our theories? […]

My latest article for RLF Collected, ‘The Mystery around Dickens’s Death’: