Young Explorers: Morning Room
Morning Room © Charles Dickens Museum
This is a portrait of Charles’s wife, Catherine. Catherine spent a lot of her time in the morning room. Some of her pastimes included making beautiful embroidery - you can see an example of this in her lap in the portrait. She also spent time socialising and having tea with friends, managing the household staff and writing letters.
Portrait of Catherine Dickens by Daniel Maclise,
DH715, 1995.13 © Charles Dickens Museum
Like many Victorian women of her social class, Catherine wrote many letters to friends and family. Before the invention of telephones and the internet, this was the only way to keep in touch! When Charles and Catherine lived at Doughty Street, whoever was receiving the letter often had to pay the postman when it was delivered! The cost of the letter depended on how heavy the letter was and on how far it was going. It made sense to try and make the letter as light as possible!
By 1840, things changed dramatically when the Penny Post was introduced in Britain. The sending of letters became cheaper and more available to everyone. Within a few years the first commercially produced Christmas cards could be purchased and people could afford to post them to all their friends!
Sending letters abroad could still be costly though. Take a look at how Catherine wrote this letter to her friend who lived all the way over in the USA.
Have a go at this activity and see if you can read the letter!