Was a jilted Isle of Wight bride the real life Miss Havisham? Amateur sleuth claims a woman called Margaret Dick who moved into an attic after she was left at the altar in 1860 inspired Charles Dickens’ iconic Great Expectations character
An amateur sleuth claims to have cracked the mystery behind the real life inspiration behind Charles Dickens’ well known character Miss Havisham.
Financial executive Alan Cartwright, the owner of a holiday cottage in the Isle of Wight for the past three years, said he discovered a pamphlet in a local church which made a passing reference to Dickens’ dining companions when he holidayed there.
According to the guide, Dickens dined with the family of jilted bride Margaret Dick, including her father Captain Samuel Dick and brother Charles George Dick, who later became his walking companion.
Miss Dick, a resident of the island, is known to have cut herself off from society following her failed marriage and lived in a loft with a trap door through which food was brought to her.
It has now emerged that the author dined with her in the years prior to her humiliation when visiting the quaint seaside town of Bonchurch.
The link to Miss Havisham – who has been portrayed by actors including Helena Bonham Carter and Gillian Anderson – does not end there, as Miss Dick was deserted in 1860, the very year Dickens was thought to be writing the novel.
Her neighbour was also called ‘Miss Haviland’, sê navorsers.
As a regular visitor to the island, historians are convinced Charles Dickens would have been told about her travails as he embarked on writing Great Expectations.
Gillian Anderson took on the role of Miss Havisham in 2012. An amateur sleuth now claims to have cracked the mystery behind the real life inspiration behind Charles Dickens’ well known character Miss Havisham
The gravestone of Margaret Dick at Ventnor Cemetery in Upper Ventnor on the Isle of Wight
The author’s great great grandson, Ian Dickens, today said it’s ‘too big a coincidence’ that this acquaintance did not have an influence on his ancestor’s work.
Die 66 year old President of the Dickens Fellowship, gesê: Charles Dickens sou die Isle of Wight vir vakansies besoek. She was certainly an important inspiration. Dit is opwindend, fascinating.’
‘She is certainly within that character. As an artist, you take elements from lots of people. But because they were friends it’s too big a coincidence not to think that she influenced it.’
At least two other potential prototypes of Miss Havisham have been put forward in the past.
An Australian woman, Eliza Emily Donnithorne, is thought to have been left at the altar and waited for her husband to return until her death.
Oscar winner Olivia Colman is due to play Miss Havisham in a forthcoming BBC adaptation
Dickens also encountered a wealthy recluse called Elizabeth Parker while staying at Havisham Court in Shropshire.
In Dickens’ Great Expectations, gepubliseer in 1861, Miss Havisham sits in her withering mansion wearing her decaying wedding dress where nothing has changed from the moment her fiance left her.
Oscar winner Olivia Colman is due to play her in a forthcoming BBC adaptation.
The revelation of the character’s real life inspiration has been made by financial executive Alan Cartwright, the owner of a holiday cottage in the town for the past three years.
He said that while researching the local area he came across a pamphlet in the local church which made a passing reference to Dickens’ dining companions when he holidayed there.
According to the guide, Dickens dined with Miss Dick’s family, including her father Captain Samuel Dick and brother Charles George Dick, who later became his walking companion.
Drawing of Uppermount, where Charles Dicken used to dine with Captain Samuel Dick and his family
Dickens and Mr Dick, toe albei verouder 37, would walk up Saint Boniface Down and it is thought the Mr Dick character, Betsy Trotwood’s lodger in David Copperfield, was nicknamed after his friend.
Dickens stayed at Winterbourne Country House in Bonchurch, where he is believed to have entertained several of his famous literary friends including Alfred Tennyson, after which he later named one of his children.
MISS HAVISHAM: CHARLES DICKENS’ BITTER SPINSTER
The wealthy spinster Miss Havisham is a character in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations (1861).
She lives in a rotting mansion and wears an old wedding dress every day of her life.
Her whole life is defined by her tragic jilting by Compeyson on what would have been their wedding day.
The heartbroken character stops all the clocks in Satis House at twenty minutes to nine – when she first learned that Compeyson was gone.
She wears only one shoe, because she had not yet put on the other shoe when she learned the bad news.
Miss Havisham adopts Estella and raises her as a weapon to achieve her own revenge on men.
The celebrated author spent three months in the town in the summer of 1849 and it is believed he wrote part of David Copperfield during his stay.
Mr Cartwright, Chief Financial Officer of EFM Global Logistics, gesê: ‘We discovered that two of his characters – Mr Dick and Miss Havisham – were based on villagers who were actually brother and sister.
‘By looking on the internet and connecting with other historians, we managed to establish that Charles Dickens had met and dined with both Charles and Margaret Dick.
‘I was visiting churches and there is a guide of Bonchurch Parish which said he dined regularly at ‘Uppermount’ with Captain Samuel Dick and his family.
‘I’m absolutely certain that Mr Dick was named after his walking companion and I’m pretty certain that Margaret Dick inspired Miss Havisham.
‘It’s one coincidence too many – she knew him, was jilted, and the fact that it was all written in about 1860 when Miss Dick was left at the altar.
‘And Havisham and Haviland is such a close switch, he often played around with names. Margaret Dick lived an isolated life but we have concluded that it must have been her.
‘The discovery has been wonderful for me, for someone who is not a historian,’ die 62 year old added.
Sue Lowday, a 64 year old local leatherworker and history enthusiast, gesê: ‘After Margaret Dick was jilted at the altar, she retired to a house called Madeira Hall and hid away in the loft.
‘There’s a trap door which goes up to the roof so food was taken up to her.
‘Dickens was a sponge, he would pick up stories here there and everywhere.’