State Library of South Australia

Charles Dickens’ family connection to Australia

Date: 25 February 2014

We recently had an enquiry seeking information about Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, the youngest son of Charles Dickens, and his life in Australia.

Photograph of Edward from Australian town and country journal 6 April 1889
Photograph of Edward from ‘Australian town and country journal’ 6 April 1889

Charles Dickens had ten children, three daughters and seven sons. We found that two of his sons emigrated to Australia, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, who was the youngest child and seventh son, and Alfred d'Orsay Tennyson Dickens, who was the sixth child and fourth son.

Edward arrived in Australia in 1868 at the age of 16. His older brother, Alfred, had arrived before him in 1865, and was therefore able to meet him in Melbourne. They spent a few weeks together before Alfred took up management of Corona Station on the borders of New South Wales and South Australia. Edward also took up outback life and lived and worked in New South Wales as a station manager and part owner of Yanda Station. For a time his company held leases of land in South Australia near Lake Eyre, however these were never occupied or used. He represented Wilcannia in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and later worked as inspector and officer for the New South Wales Government.

Alfred left Corona Station to become a stock and station agent at Hamilton, Victoria and later toured giving lectures about his famous father.

In our General Collection we hold a book on the lives of these two men in this country 'A tale of two brothers: Charles Dickens' sons in Australia' by Mary Lazurus. This documents Charles' active interest in Australia after meeting Caroline Chisholm in England in 1850. Many of Charles' famous works have references to Australia, including 'Great Expectations'.

The Trove newspaper database has numerous references to both brothers.

 

Story by: Prue McDonald

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