Katey Dickens was a nineteenth-century artist and socialite, and the beautiful daughter of Charles Dickens. In this illuminating biography, Lucinda Hawksley, herself Dickens's great-great-great-granddaughter, recreates the life of an extraordinarily determined girl who defied Victorian convention to live and love as an independent woman. Blessed with a privileged upbringing in a family that moved between London, France, Switzerland and Italy, Katey pursued her love of painting, acted in her father's plays, modelled for John Everett Millais and, as the daughter of the most famous writer of the time, enjoyed a high profile in Victorian society. Yet she refused to be eclipsed by her father and fought to establish herself as an artist in her own right. Family life in the Dickens household was turbulent and the unhappy atmosphere that followed the eventual breakdown of her parents' marriage drove Katey to marry young.
Her first husband was the chronically ailing Charlie Collins, brother of the famous author Wilkie Collins, and theirs was a sexless but otherwise companionable union, while Katey threw herself into a passionate and very un-Victorian affair with celebrated artist Val Prinsep. After Charlie's untimely demise, the widowed Katey married the handsome Italian artist Carlo Perugini, with whom she had fallen deeply in love. Despite the happiness she finally found in her second marriage, Katey often suffered from deep depression, particularly following the death of her beloved father and of her baby. But she remained active, pursuing her career as a painter, championing Charles Dickens's works, and befriending such eminent figures as J. M. Barrie and George Bernard Shaw. Katey Perugini lived to be almost ninety and her artistic prestige, which flourished during her lifetime, still persists to this day. Author of the acclaimed "Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel", Lucinda Hawksley has delved deep into her own family history to research this fascinating new biography, which intimately remembers the life of a supremely independent Victorian woman.
Lucinda Hawksley is a prize-winning travel writer and a direct descendent of Charles Dickens. Having completed an MA in History of Art, Lucinda pursued her fascination with Dickens's artist daughter, Kate Perugini, organizing and curating an exhibition of her paintings in 2002 at the Dickens House Museum. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel. Lucinda lives in London.