Katey: The Life and Loves of Dickens’ Artist Daughter
Lucinda Hawksley, a direct descendant of Charles Dickens, demonstrates that family history can be of great interest to outsiders. Katherine Elizabeth Macready Dickens was born in 1839, the third child and second daughter of Charles and Catherine (nee Hogarth) Dickens. Katey, as she was known, had a privileged upbringing surrounded by the most prominent writers and artists of the day. Refusing to be eclipsed by the father she adored, she worked hard to become an artist in her own right. But, it is the Millais painting of 1860, The Black Brunswicker, which immortalised Kate and made her recognisable to us all today.
Ms Hawksley’s biography is an enthralling and erudite account, not only of Kate Perugini (her second marriage was to the painter C.E. Perugini) but also of the whole Dickens family and the Victorian society in which they lived. The line drawings and photographs are an excellent aide-memoir for the reader; there were so many Dickenses! If there is any fault to the book, it is that Katey is often merely relegated to the role of favourite daughter to the much more famous Charles.