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09May

Unseen lockets reveal grief that haunted Charles Dickens’s writing

Tokens of affection were exchanged with sister-in-law whose early death influenced the author’s work

A pair of exchanged lockets might look like evidence of an illicit romance. But two such “highly personal and private” tokens of affection – one containing a lock of Charles Dickens’s hair and the other of his sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth – are actually proof of something more tragic and complex, according to the curator of an exhibition to open next month in Dickens’s former central London home.

“We are enormously pleased to be showing these previously unseen items, which we acquired last year, for the first time,” said Louisa Price of the Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street. “They tell a story that had a direct influence on at least one of his best known works – Oliver Twist – which he was writing when his sister-in-law, Mary, suddenly died.”

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