George Hogarth

George Hogarth

George Hogarth, the son of Robert Hogarth, a farmer, and his wife, Mary Scott, was born at Carfrae Mill, near Oxton, Berwickshire, on 6th September 1783. Hogarth studied law in Edinburgh. He also studied the cello and composition, and acted as joint secretary to the Edinburgh Music Festival.

On 30th May, 1814, Hogarth married Georgina Thomson, the daughter of music publisher and editor George Thomson. They had ten children including Catherine Hogarth (1815), Mary Hogarth (1819), Georgina Hogarth (1827) and Helen Hogarth (1833).

Hogarth was a talented writer and worked as a journalist for the Edinburgh Courant. In 1817, with Walter Scott and his own brother-in-law James Ballantyne, he bought the Edinburgh Weekly Journal. Hogarth was a slightly "Bohemian" and was considered to be a "genial and gentle man". A fellow journalist, John Forster, described him as "a kindly and accomplished man".

In 1830 Hogarth and his family moved to London in order to develop his career as a writer. Claire Tomalin has argued: "He decided to move south, using his knowledge of music and literature to help him find work as a journalist and critic. At first he worked for Harmonicon . In 1831 Hogarth went to Exeter to edit the Western Luminary , a newspaper that supported the Tories and in the following year he moved to Halifax as the first editor of the Halifax Guardian. During this period he followed instructions to campaign against parliamentary reform. On 8th November 1831 he wrote: "The circumstances which deluged France with blood may find a counterpart in this country if our present headlong career toward revolution is not arrested."

Arthur A. Adrian, the author of Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle (1957), has pointed out: "He served the community still further by helping to found the Halifax Orchestral Society and by making his home a cultural centre, frequented by musical amateurs of the district. His wife shared this musical interest, an inheritance from her father, who had published the five-volume Select Scottish Airs, a work which doubtless graced the Hogarth musical library."

Hogarth wrote to a friend, William Ayrton : "I have to advocate the views of his party, not in the lukewarm, indifferent tone... but, through earnestly, yet temperately and dispassionately... That I succeed, in this respect, is apparently from the circumstance, that while I satisfy the warmest of my political supporters, I have made no enemies among the opposite party, among whom I hear, I am always spoken of with respect."

Despite pressure from the owners of the Halifax Guardian, Hogarth retained his support of women's rights. In 1834 he wrote about the achievements of Mary Somerville: "The mind of woman has, in all ages, occasionally asserted its claims to the highest intellectual power; but the comparative narrowness of female education has rendered the attainment of great distinction in learning or science a rare occurrence; and this rarity has had the effect of communicating to the gifted few certain foibles of character which have made a learned lady, or a bluestocking, be looked upon, in society, as something pedantic, stiff, and unfeminine. In this respect, however, a great change has taken place; and our most distinguished authoresses form the grace and ornament of the society in which they move. This is very remarkably the case with the lady whose latest work is before us; a lady who, while she exhibits a mind of the most masculine depth and vigour, preserves all the softest features of the female character."

Hogarth eventually fell out with the proprietors of the newspaper and resigned his editorship. He moved to London in 1834 where he was offered the position of music and drama critic of The Morning Chronicle. As Lillian Nayder, the author of The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth (2011), has pointed out: "Hogarth took the job, which marked a significant shift in his career: he would be working no longer for conservative provincial weeklies but for one of the most influential and liberal of London dailies, second only to The Times in circulation." In 1835 he was appointed as editor of the sister newspaper, The Evening Chronicle . He became friends with Charles Dickens and commissioned him to write a series of articles, Sketches of London , under the pseudonym "Boz". As a result Dickens' salary was increased to seven guineas a week.

George Hogarth invited Dickens to visit him at his home in Kensington. The author of Dickens: A Life (2011) has pointed out: "Hogarth... had a large and still growing family, and when he (Dickens) made his first visit to their house on the Fulham Road, surrounded by gardens and orchards, he met their eldest daughter, nineteen-year-old Catherine. Her unaffectedness appealed to him at once, and her being different from the young woman he had known, not only in being Scottish but in coming from an educated family background with literary connections. The Hogarths, like the Beadnells, were a cut above the Dickens family, but they welcomed Dickens warmly as an equal, and George Hogarth's enthusiasm for his work was flattering."

Catherine Hogarth was also impressed by Dickens. In February 1835 she attended a party at Dickens's home. Catherine wrote to her cousin that: "It was in honour of his birthday. It was a batchelors party at his own chambers. His mother and sisters presided. One of them a very pretty girl who sings beautifully. It was a delightful party I enjoyed it very much - Mr Dickens improves very much on acquaintance he is very gentlemanly and pleasant."

One of the daughters, Georgina Hogarth, later recalled that Dickens enjoyed "some delightful musical evenings" where her father performed upon the violoncello. According to Georgina Thomson Hogarth, on one occasion, Dickens "dressed as a sailor jumped in at the window, danced a hornpipe, whistling the tune jumped out again, and a few minutes later Charles Dickens walked gravely in at the door, as if nothing had happened, shook hands all round, and then, at the sight of their puzzled faces, burst into a roar of laughter."

Dickens offer to marry Catherine Hogarth was immediately accepted. Claire Tomalin has commented: "He (Dickens) saw in her the affection, compliance and physical pleasure, and he believed he was in love with her. That was enough for him to ask her to be his wife.... She was not clever or accomplished like his sister Fanny and could never be his intellectual equal, which may have been part of her charm: foolish little women are more often presented as sexually desirable in his writing than clever, competent ones.... His decision to marry her was quickly made, and he never afterwards gave any account of what had led him to it, perhaps because he came to regard it as the worst mistake in his life."

Andrew Sanders, the author of Authors in Context: Charles Dickens (2003), has argued: "Dickens's affection for her, and his feeling of real mutual warmth, is evident enough in the letters that survive their courtship but the surviving correspondence suggests little of the adolescent passion that he seems to have felt for Maria Beadnell."

Dickens offer to marry Catherine was immediately accepted. Claire Tomalin has commented: "He (Dickens) saw in her the affection, compliance and physical pleasure, and he believed he was in love with her. That was enough for him to ask her to be his wife.... She was not clever or accomplished like his sister Fanny and could never be his intellectual equal, which may have been part of her charm: foolish little women are more often presented as sexually desirable in his writing than clever, competent ones.... His decision to marry her was quickly made, and he never afterwards gave any account of what had led him to it, perhaps because he came to regard it as the worst mistake in his life."

In the summer of 1835 he took rooms close to the Hogarth house, to be near Catherine. In June he wrote to Catherine urging her to come round and make a late breakfast for him: "It's a childish wish my dear love; but I am anxious to hear and see you the moment I wake - will you indulge me by making breakfast for me... it will be excellent practice for you." On another occasion he wrote that he is "warmly and deeply attached" to her, but he would give her up if she showed him any "coldness".

Charles Dickens married Catherine on 2nd April, 1836, at Lukes Church, Chelsea. After a wedding breakfast at her parents, they went on honeymoon to the village of Chalk, near Gravesend. Dickens wanted to show Catherine the countryside of his childhood. However, he discovered that his wife did not share his passion for long, fast walks. As one biographer put it: "Writing was necessarily his primary occupation, and hers must be to please him as best she could within the limitations of her energy: writing desk and walking boots for him, sofa and domesticity for her."

Hogarth's most important publications are Musical History, Biography and Criticism (1835) and Memoirs of the Musical Drama (1838). Hogarth was also editor of the Musical Herald in 1846–7 and music critic for the Daily News and the Illustrated London News. His biographer, John Warrack, has argued that Hogarth: "A man of liberal sympathies and considerable learning, Hogarth was a just, outspoken, and generous critic." Hogarth believed in the importance of free discussion and the dispassionate search for truth. Unlike Charles Dickens he did not believe that "intellectual power" made a woman "unfeminine". In 1850 he became secretary of the Philharmonic Society. He also composed songs and piano pieces.

Charles Dickens was unhappily married to Catherine Dickens and as a result his relationship with his father-in-law. In 1854 Dickens was remarking, "I think my constitution is already undermined by the sight of George Hogarth at breakfast". In April 1856 Dickens wrote to John Forster about Catherine: "I find that the skeleton in my domestic closet is becoming a pretty big one." He also said that he feared that "one happiness I have missed in life, and one friend and companion I have never made." Dickens disliked the way his wife had put on weight. He told Wilkie Collins how he had taken her to his favourite Paris restaurant where she ate so much that she "nearly killed herself".

In August 1857 Dickens met Nellie Ternan. Two months later he moved out of the master bedroom and now slept alone in a single bed. At the same time he wrote to Emile De La Rue in Genoa, saying that Catherine was insanely jealous of his friendships and that she was unable to get on with her children. He wrote to other friends complaining of Catherine's "weaknesses and jealousies" and that she was suffering from a "confused mind".

Dickens wrote to John Forster to explain his feelings towards Catherine Dickens: "Poor Catherine and I are not made for each other, and there is no help for it. It is not only that she makes me uneasy and unhappy, but that I make her so too - and much more so. She is exactly what you know in the way of being amiable and complying, but we are strangely ill-assorted for the bond there is between us. God knows she would have been a thousand times happier if she had married another kind of man, and that her avoidance of this destiny would have been at least equally good for us both. I am often cut to the heart by thinking what a pity it is, for her own sake, that I ever fell in her way; and if I were sick or disabled to-morrow, I know how sorry she would be, and how deeply grieved myself, to think how we had lost each other. But exactly the same incompatibility would arise, the moment I was well again; and nothing on earth could make her understand me, or suit us to each other. Her temperament will not go with mine. It mattered not so much when we had only ourselves to consider, but reasons have been growing since which make it all but hopeless that we should even try to struggle on. What is now befalling me I have seen steadily coming, ever since the days you remember when Mary was born; and I know too well that you cannot, and no one can, help me."

Rumours began to circulate at the Garrick Club that Dickens was having an affair with Hogarth's daughter, Georgina Hogarth. As Dickens, biographer, Peter Ackroyd, points out: "There were rumours... that he was having an affair with his own sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth. That she had given birth to his children. More astonishing still, it seems likely that these rumours about Georgina were in fact started or at least not repudiated by the Hogarths themselves." George Hogarth wrote a letter to his solicitor in which he assured him: "The report that I or my wife or daughter have at any time stated or insinuated that any impropriety of conduct had taken place between my daughter Georgina and her brother-in-law Charles Dickens is totally and entirely unfounded."

The author of The Invisible Woman (1990) argues: "The idea of a member of the Garrick Club so distinguished for his celebration of the domestic virtues being caught out in a love affair with a young sister-in-law was certainly scandalous enough to cause a stir of excitement." William Makepeace Thackeray , who was a close friend of Dickens, claimed that he was not having an affair with Georgina but "with an actress".

In May 1858, Catherine Dickens accidentally received a bracelet meant for Ellen Ternan. Her daughter, Kate Dickens, says her mother was distraught by the incident. Charles Dickens responded by a meeting with his solicitors. By the end of the month he negotiated a settlement where Catherine should have £400 a year and a carriage and the children would live with Dickens. Later, the children insisted they had been forced to live with their father. Kate complained that her father's behaviour in separating them from their mother was "wicked".

Charles Culliford Dickens refused and decided that he would live with his mother. He told his father in a letter: "Don't suppose that in making my choice, I was actuated by any feeling of preference for my mother to you. God knows I love you dearly, and it will be a hard day for me when I have to part from you and the girls. But in doing as I have done, I hope I am doing my duty, and that you will understand it so."

Charles Dickens wrote to Angela Burdett-Coutts about his marriage to Catherine: "We have been virtually separated for a long time. We must put a wider space between us now, than can be found in one house... If the children loved her, or ever had loved her, this severance would have been a far easier thing than it is. But she has never attached one of them to herself, never played with them in their infancy, never attracted their confidence as they have grown older, never presented herself before them in the aspect of a mother."

Dickens claimed that Catherine's mother and her daughter Helen Hogarth had spread rumours about his relationship with Georgina Hogarth . Dickens insisted that Mrs Hogarth sign a statement withdrawing her claim that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with Georgina. In return, he would raise Catherine's annual income to £600. On 29th May, 1858, Mrs Hogarth and Helen Hogarth reluctantly put their names to a document which said in part: "Certain statements have been circulated that such differences are occasioned by circumstances deeply affecting the moral character of Mr. Dickens and compromising the reputation and good name of others, we solemnly declare that we now disbelieve such statements." They also promised not to take any legal action against Dickens.

On the signing of the settlement, Catherine moved to a house in Gloucester Place, Brighton, with her son Charles Culliford Dickens. Charles Dickens now moved back to Tavistock House with Georgina and the rest of the children. She was put in command of the servants and household management.

Hogarth was liked by his fellow journalists. William Michael Rossetti described him as "an affable, simple-mannered elderly gentleman, free from anything stiff or self-assertive". In 1866 Hogarth resigned from the Daily News when ill health caused his resignation. It has been claimed by R. Shelton MacKenzie, the author of Life of Charles Dickens (1870) that he had become "far too old to attend concerts and operas."

In January 1870 he fell down the stairs at the office of the Illustrated London News, breaking an arm and a leg. He never recovered from the effect of these injuries, and died at the house of his widowed daughter, Helen Roney, 10 Gloucester Crescent, Regent's Park, on 12th February 1870.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Lillian Nayder, The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth ( 2011 )

Georgina Thomson married George Hogarth, ten years her senior, on 1 June 1814, according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. That summer the newlyweds visited friends in Glasgow and Helensborough, west of Edinburgh, sometimes accompanied by Georgina's sister Anne and by George Thomson. "Today Mr. Hogarth and I have been in Glasgow and have walked ourselves as tired as greyhounds after a chase," Thomson told his wife in August 1814. By that time Georgina Hogarth was pregnant with Catherine. Other children followed in rapid succession. She gave birth to Robert in 1816, and to a second daughter. Mary Scott, in 1817 or 1818. Mary died in infancy; and the Hogarths gave another daughter, born in 1819, her name. They had six more children, four born before their departure from Edinburgh: George (b. 1821), William (b. 1823); James (b. 1825), and Georgina (b. 1827). The last of the Hogarth children, twins Helen and Edward, were born in Halifax in 1833, eighteen years after their sister Catherine.

(2) George Hogarth, letter to Sir Walter Scott (30th September 1830)

You may perhaps have heard that I have been unfortunate in business; and having failed of success in a profession which I have carried on for so many years, I have no prospect now of being able to continue it with better fortune. Indeed, my want of capital has always prevented my doing business to advantage, or competing with the other members of a profession so much overstocked. I take the liberty of saying all this, to show you (who have often expressed a kind interest in my affairs) that it is not without reason that I wish to do something for my family in another way.

Hearing that the Editorship of the London Courier was vacant; James Ballantyne wrote to Mr. Rees, enquiring as to this and mentioning it as an object which I considered desirable. He has just received an answer from Mr. Rees, in which that gentleman advises me immediately to come to London, as lie says the newspaper proprietors are now forming their arrangements for the next season; and he offers, in the kindest manner, to use his good offices in my behalf.

(3) Arthur A. Adrian, Georgina Hogarth and the Dickens Circle (1957)

Having failed to find an editorship in London, in spite of the recommendation solicited from Scott, he became interested in Halifax, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, attracted, perhaps, as much by its musical festival as by the invitation of the local Conservative Party to found and edit a weekly newspaper there. When Georgina was four, the family therefore left Edinburgh, then in its golden age as the Athens of the North, and settled in the provincial city. The following year, 1832, Hogarth launched the Halifax Guardian, with the ambitious aim of returning a Conservative candidate in a red-hot radical town. Since only two issues of the Guardian preceded the election, the party's failure that year is not surprising. The next year, however, saw a Conservative victory. At the ball celebrating this triumph, each lady received an exquisitely bound copy of a literary annual, The White Rose of York, edited by Hogarth. Dedicated "To Her Most Gracious Majesty, Adelaide, the Queen," the silver-stamped purple volume, made up largely of local contributions, reflected in its Preface the pride of the editor in his newly adopted town and county, an attitude which must have endeared him locally. He served the community still further by helping to found the Halifax Orchestral Society and by making his home a cultural centre, frequented by musical amateurs of the district. His wife shared this musical interest, an inheritance from her father, who had published the five-volume Select Scottish Airs, a work which doubtless graced the Hogarth musical library.

(4) George Hogarth to William Ayrton (21st October 1833)

I have to advocate the views of his party, not in the lukewarm, indifferent tone... but, through earnestly, yet temperately and dispassionately... That I succeed, in this respect, is apparently from the circumstance, that while I satisfy the warmest of my political supporters, I have made no enemies among the opposite party, among whom I hear, I am always spoken of with respect.

(5) George Hogarth wrote about Mary Somerville in The Halifax Guardian (19th April, 1834)

The mind of woman has, in all ages, occasionally asserted its claims to the highest intellectual power; but the comparative narrowness of female education has rendered the attainment of great distinction in learning or science a rare occurrence; and this rarity has had the effect of communicating to the gifted few certain foibles of character which have made a learned lady, or a bluestocking, be looked upon, in society, as something pedantic, stiff, and unfeminine. In this respect, however, a great change has taken place; and our most distinguished authoresses form the grace and ornament of the society in which they move. This is very remarkably the case with the lady whose latest work is before us; a lady who, while she exhibits a mind of the most masculine depth and vigour, preserves all the softest features of the female character.

(6) Claire Tomalin , Dickens: A Life (2011)

They had a large and still growing family, and when he made his first visit to their house on the Fulham Road, surrounded by gardens and orchards, he met their eldest daughter, nineteen-year-old Catherine. Her unaffectedness appealed to him at once, and her being different from the young woman he had known, not only in being Scottish but in coming from an educated family background with literary connections. The Hogarths, like the Beadnells, were a cut above the Dickens family, but they welcomed Dickens warmly as an equal, and George Hogarth's enthusiasm for his work was flattering. Catherine was slim, shapely and pleasant-looking, with a gentle manner and without any of Maria Beadnell's sparkling beauty; but his experience with Maria's beauty and unpredictable behaviour had marked him as a burn marks, and left its scar. Better less sparkle and no wound.

(7) Charles Dickens, Household Words (12th June, 1858)

Some domestic trouble of mine, of long-standing, on which I will make no further remark than that it claims to be respected, as being of a sacredly private nature, has lately been brought to an arrangement, which involves no anger or ill-will of any kind, and the whole origin, progress, and surrounding circumstances of which have been, throughout, within the knowledge of my children. It is amicably composed, and its details have now to be forgotten by those concerned in it... By some means, arising out of wickedness, or out of folly, or out of inconceivable wild chance, or out of all three, this trouble has been the occasion of misrepresentations, mostly grossly false, most monstrous, and most cruel - involving, not only me, but innocent persons dear to my heart... I most solemnly declare, then - and this I do both in my own name and in my wife's name - that all the lately whispered rumours touching the trouble, at which I have glanced, are abominably false. And whosoever repeats one of them after this denial, will lie as wilfully and as foully as it is possible for any false witness to lie, before heaven and earth.