The evil side of Charles Dickens: He wanted to lock his wife in an insane asylum to live with his mistress

Charles Dickens, one of the letters and the writer's wife - Catherine / Photo: Profimedia

The breakdown of the writer's 22-year marriage Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine Dickens is well documented. Like the author's cruelty to his wife, writes "Style".

However, after a trove of newly discovered letters surfaced, it emerged that Dickens went so far as to plan to commit his perfectly healthy wife to a mental institution, all so that he could live with his mistress.

A document of 98 letters describes how meticulous and cunning Dickens was in his attempt to leave his wife and live with his mistress - without any consequences. He went so far as to try to portray his normal wife as mentally ill.

A letter that Charles Dickens wrote to his wife for Christmas in 1938 / Photo: EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

At the time of their separation, the writer wrote a letter to his agent, in which he claimed that Catherine wanted to move out of their home because she has a "mental disorder that she lives with on a daily basis".

The letter reached the public and became, in a way, a topic of gossip. Some say that the writer published it himself, so that he could control the story of his separation from his wife. He labeled Catherine a "burden" that he could no longer help.

In the early years of their marriage, Dickens addressed his wife as "my dearest life" in letters sent to her, but that all changed quickly when the writer began an affair with an 18-year-old actress. After he met her Ellen "Nellie" Ternan, he was with both at the same time, until he officially separated from Catherine, which was quite unusual for the time.

Portrait of Charles Dickens / Photo: EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

Meanwhile, Catherine struggled to come to terms with the fact that she no longer lived in the family home where she had raised her ten children. Her version of events has not yet been reviewed.

The revelation that Charles Dickens tried to commit his wife to a mental institution is certainly shocking, but what's even worse is that there is evidence that people knew about this deception. And close people of Dickens' ex-wife. Her aunt, Helen Thompson, claimed that the writer tried to convince her that Catherine's doctor had diagnosed her as mentally incompetent, but her record was dismissed as a forgery.

Unfortunately, we can conclude from this example that even literary geniuses are complex human beings, who are themselves capable of the cruelty they condemn.

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