Charles Dickens’ Childhood by Michael Allen (auth.)

By Michael Allen (auth.)

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It would seem that Charles remembered her too, as he wrote in The Holly Tree Inn. My first impressions of an Inn, dated from the Nursery; consequently, I went back to the Nursery for a starting-point, and found myself at the knee of a sallow woman with a fishy eye, an aquiline nose, and a green gown, whose speciality was a dismal narrative of a landlord by the roadside, whose visitors unaccountably disappeared, for many years, until it was discovered that the pursuit of his life had been to convert them into pies .

Peace and abundance were on the countryside in beautiful forms and beautiful colours, and the harvest seemed even to be sailing out to grace the never reaped sea in the yellow-laden barges that mellowed the distance. It was on this occasion that the Spirit of the Fort, directing his remarks to a certain floating iron battery lately lying in that reach of the river, enriched my mind with his opinions on naval architecture, and informed me that he would like to be an engineer. I found him up to everything that is done in the contracting line by Messrs Peto and Brassey - cunning in the article of concrete - mellow in the matter of iron - great on the subject of gunnery.

The rate books for 1815 and 1816 indicate that only one house in Norfolk Street was let to tenants: that was number 19. It was owned by Richard Biddle and rated at £45 per annum. However, there is evidence to locate another address, since many years later, in 1830, Charles Dickens was again in lodgings in Norfolk Street and this time can be firmly located at number 10. >-16 and 1830, was a gentleman by the name of John Dodd. This man is a good strong link between the Dickens family and the same address for the two different periods; yet there is an even stronger tie drawing together John Dodd and John Dickens over that span of fifteen years, for Dodd it was who appeared in the list of creditors when John Dickens was arrested for debt in 1824.

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