CHARLES DICKENS & THE MEDWAY TOWNS
Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812 in Mile End Terrace, Portsmouth. The house there is now a small Dickens Museum, but other than the couch on which he is said to have died, which has been brought there and placed in an upstairs room perhaps to encompass the beginning and the end of the great author’s life in one location, there is little remaining in that house directly connected to the man. And this is scarcely surprising, as the Dickens family moved from there when the infant Charles was five months old, and prodigious though he was, there was no indication at that time that he would become one of the world’s greatest and most famous writers.
The family moved several times in the next few years, and in April 1817, after four months living in Sheerness, first took up residence in Chatham, where Charles’ father John had been posted to the Dockyard as a Navy clerk. The biographer Peter Ackroyd ('Dickens', Pub. Minerva, London, 1991) regards the Medway area as the one with which (Charles Dickens) ‘felt himself to be most closely associated, and it is the one to which he returned in later life. Rochester provides a setting for his first novel and for his last; Chatham itself, once described by him as a ‘mere dream of chalk, and drawbridges, and mast less ships, in a muddy river’, was also to become one of the primary landscapes of his imagination.’
The Dickens’s lived in 2 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham (the house now commemorated with a small plaque) for four years, then moved to a smaller property in St Mary’s Place (long since demolished) as the improvident John Dickens found it harder to keep on top of the costs of a growing family. They remained there until June 1822, at which time John was recalled to work at Somerset House and the family relocated to London (although ten-year old Charles stayed behind in Chatham at his schoolmaster’s house for a further three months before making his way to rejoin his parents in the capital on his own).
It was in London that Dickens took his first steps on the road to fame, but his childhood in the Medway Towns had left a deep impression on him, and he continued to return to them throughout his life. During one of the boyhood walks he used to take with his father when they lived in Chatham, Charles had come upon the imposing Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, and seeing him admiring it, his father had told him that if he worked hard enough, he might one day come to own such a fine house himself. Perhaps it is not too fanciful to suggest that it was on this spot that Charles’ incredible drive and determination to be a success were born, for not only did he ultimately come to own more than one fine house, but in March 1856, when he was forty-four years old, he achieved his lifelong ambition and bought Gad’s Hill Place itself for the then considerable sum of £1790.
The house needed a lot of work, and it was more than a year before Dickens and his family took up residence in it - he had married Catherine Hogarth on 2nd April 1836, honeymooning in Chalk, and in time fathered seven sons and two daughters - but once they did so, spent much of their time there. Dickens was at the height of his immense fame by this time, and Gad’s Hill saw a steady stream of eminent visitors over the next few years including the writers Hans Christian Anderson, Wilkie Collins, and Dickens’ close friend and eventual biographer John Forster.
Although he continued to spend time in London and elsewhere, Dickens resided frequently at Gad’s Hill Place for the rest of his life, and became a familiar figure in the area, taking his accustomed long walks, keeping score at the local cricket matches, and on one occasion, hosting a bizarre picnic in Cooling Churchyard. After one of many quarrels with his wife Catherine, their relationship by that stage having broken down irreconcilably, Dickens rose in the middle of the night and walked the thirty or so miles from their London home to escape to Higham for some peace and quiet.
Charles Dickens died on 9th June 1870, at Gad’s Hill Place, the house he had coveted as a boy and made his own for the last fourteen years of his too short life, and his body was taken from Higham Station to London amidst great national and international mourning. Thousands of people queued to pay their last respects over the two days his grave was left open, and the bell of Rochester Cathedral tolled as the area’s most famous resident was interred in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
From the age of five, the great writer’s life had been inextricably linked to and entwined with the Medway Towns, the setting where his young imagination first took shape and where it was, when death took him, still being poured into the writing of his last unfinished novel. Places in the area abound in his short stories and novels, transmuted through the medium of his vivid creativity into literary icons. Eastgate House in Rochester appears in both ‘The Pickwick Papers’ (1837) as Westgate House and in ‘Edwin Drood’ (1870) as The Nuns’ House. Rochester is called Cloisterham and features as the main setting in the latter book, while The Bull Inn in Rochester and The Leather Bottle in Cobham are scenes of hilarious adventures for the eccentric members of the Pickwick Club. Restoration House, The Vines, is the inspiration for the forbidding Satis House in ‘Great Expectations’ (1861) where the spurned Miss Havisham sits in her faded wedding dress plotting spiteful revenge on mankind, and Cooling Churchyard provided the perfect macabre setting for the opening of that same novel, where young Pip first encounters the convict Magwitch who is to have such a profound effect on his life. References like these to the Medway Towns and to specific places within them appear throughout Dickens’ writings, and many of the places he knew are still in existence today. He is commemorated in street names and shop names, and his works are readily available in the many new and second-hand bookshops which Rochester in particular boasts. There are local literary societies dedicated to his life and writing. And in Eastgate House, there is The Dickens Centre, a museum, interactive display, and book and memorabilia shop, with the Swiss Chalet in which Dickens used to do much of his writing at Gad’s Hill now rebuilt in its grounds.
The name The Dickens Centre has a resonance beyond that of the one building in which it is housed. For Dickens is in fact central to the entire cultural history of the area; and the area was demonstrably central to his imagination and writing. If any great writer ever captured - and was captured by - the spirit of a place, this was so with Charles Dickens and the Medway Towns.
It was not uncommon for Victorian writers to adopt pseudonyms. Dickens began his career as "Boz" and the Brontes first appeared in print as the three "Bells"; "George Eliot" and "Mark Twain" are better known today than Mary Anne Evans and Samuel Clemens.
It is doubtful, however, whether any Victorian novelist clung to the pose of being two separate personalities as fiercely as Charles Dodgson. This shy, stammering mathematician would regularly disown his alter-ego, to the extent, in later life, of returning marked "Not Known", letters addressed to Lewis Carroll at Christ Church.
What could have caused such eccentric behaviour? Dodgson was notably shy, but he wrote many books on logic and mathematics under his own name, and was always quite happy to acknowledge his authorship of them. It suggests that there was something in the character of the amoral Lewis Carroll which the pious Dodgson did not want associated with himself. Some secret, perhaps, which could never be revealed and which led him to adopt two entirely different characters -- neither of whom could acknowledge the other -- as the only way he could, in a literal sense, live with himself. The following extract indicates that Dodgson was quite certainly troubled by something:
"It is not in the hope of remedying insomnia that I have proposed mathematical calculations, but rather in order to remedy the worrying thoughts which are liable to invade a mind that is wholly unoccupied ... Once my brain is so wide awake that, do what I may, I can be sure not to sleep for at least an hour, I have to choose between two solutions: either submitting to fruitless torture, self-inflicted, by turning within myself to a problem that disturbs me; or filling my mind with a subject sufficiently absorbing to keep worry at bay. For me, any mathematical problem will do this ..." (*1)
The fact that this appeared as late as 1893 suggests that his mind was disturbed by such "torture" for much of his life. It is well known that Dodgson spoke of lying awake at nights plagued by thoughts "that would fain be pure", and many people have assumed that this refers to an impropriety in his relationships with young girls. ["...sceptical thoughts, which seem for the moment to uproot the firmest faith; ... blasphemous thoughts, which dart unbidden into the most reverent souls; ...unholy thoughts, which torture, with their hateful presence, the fancy that would fain be pure.". From Introduction to Curiosa Mathematica, Part II, pub. 1893.]
The purpose of this essay is to propose that there was actually a different cause for Dodgson's troubled thoughts and that it was the same cause which led to him adopting a divided persona. I would like to submit that, for much of his life, Dodgson wrestled with a massive religious dilemma that he never fully resolved, and which manifested itself in a dual existence. His dilemma was the classic one between religious faith and scientific logic. Charles Dodgson believed implicitly in God -- Lewis Carroll did not!
Between the years of 1830 and 1900, a number of important changes took place in Victorian Anglicanism which, taken as a whole, amounted to a bloodless revolution. In the early part of the century, the Church of England truly merited its name. It was the established national church, with a status and with privileges denied by law to other religious groups. Though it recognised differing shades of opinion amongst its adherents, it was nonetheless an internally united organisation. Externally, however, things were less placid. It was behind the times administratively, with the size and funding of many parishes and dioceses failing to take account of the demographic changes of the previous two centuries (which included the Industrial Revolution and the massive spread of urbanisation); it was badly managed and poorly staffed in that the clergy were often poorly trained or educated, and frequently practised pluralism or absenteeism; and it was under threat from political and religious opponents. It was inevitable that things were going to have to change.
Change they did. By 1900, the Anglican Church had altered dramatically. Though still the established national church in England, it had lost most of its civil advantages over other religious groups, and it had been disestablished in Ireland. The internal management and administration had improved considerably, and the clergy provided a more pastoral service which included greater participation on the part of their congregations. Most notably, the differing shades of opinion in the earlier Anglican Church had polarised into three internal sects which operated against a background of competition rather than consensus: the High Church Anglo-Catholics, the Low Church Evangelicals, and the Broad Church Liberals.
Though I have described the revolution as "bloodless", it was not without battles. The most damaging was the one between traditional religious doctrine and the new moral and scientific discoveries which evolved throughout the nineteenth century. The dichotomy between faith and science brought about a national crisis of faith, the ramifications of which still persist to this day. This crisis reached its apogee in the middle years of the nineteenth century, at the very time when Dodgson was considering his vocation for the priesthood.
The crisis did not happen overnight. One can identify a number of notable landmarks in the process (*2), which actually stretched back as far as the 1840s:
1859 Darwin's Origin of Species published, arguing against divine creationism;
1860 Essays and Reviews published, questioning the morality of the God described in the Bible;
1862 Bishop Colenso denied Moses' authorship of the Pentateuch and used mathematics to disprove various events reported in it.:
1863 Scientific challenges to religious doctrine e.g. Huxley's Man's Place in Nature and Lyell's Antiquity of Man ;
1863-65 Various naturalistic and non-miraculous "Lives of Jesus" published;
1864-65 Civil courts decided that nothing could be done to drive "subversives" from the established Church;
1869 Frederick Temple, a contributor to the radically liberal Essays and Reviews, made Bishop of Exeter;
1871 Publication of Darwin's Descent of Man.
These occurrences were among the most obvious signs of a change in attitude of Victorians towards religious belief, a change which meant that -- in order to accept unquestioningly the word of the church -- an intelligent person had to deny the welter of scientific and historical evidence which seemed daily to be accruing against it and which were indicating that the events described in the Bible were impossible. Increasing numbers of people were unable to deny the evidence.
Dodgson, or the repressed part of Dodgson which manifested itself as Carroll, was one such person.
"Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said; 'one can't believe impossible things.'
'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.' " (*3)
The greater part of the clergy adopted a flatly dogmatic stance against new ideas and forced people into the dilemma of either having to agree to everything the clergy told them or else to forgo religion altogether: the Church permitted no middle course.
Another commentator (*4) concentrates on the difficult position of clergymen during this crisis, and on the fact that their position made it much more difficult to express doubts -- to "speak plainly" -- than was the case for lay persons. A particular problem existed for clergymen who did not believe certain aspects of traditional Christian doctrine, but who still viewed themselves as Christians and who therefore considered themselves to be entitled to remain within the Church. Some observers saw this as sophistry. The debate on the moral duty of speaking plainly about what one believed continued until the early 1880s.
Where did Dodgson stand on these compelling religious issues? Lacking any other evidence of his views, we can judge only from his actions. It originally seemed that he was destined for the priesthood:
"The Dodgson family had a solidly clerical tradition...Consequently, when young Charles Lutwidge Dodgson had to decide on a course of studies to pursue, the path to ordination seemed the normal one to follow." (*5)
He was ordained Deacon in December 1861 but, surprisingly, chose not to proceed to Priest's Orders. He made a number of attempts to adopt parochial duties and gave a few sermons, but by the summer of 1867 he had stopped preaching and assisting at sermons altogether. At some stage, he decided not to follow the usual course of taking full Holy Orders and becoming a priest. No-one knows why:
"He was to reach a decision during the next few years, but as to how he reached it we know almost nothing, for it is that period for which several volumes of his diary are missing." (*6)
There is a mystery here, and various people have proffered suggestions as to what lay behind Dodgson's decision:
"Of Dodgson's doubts about being ordained, his nephew, Collingwood, states: 'He was not prepared to live the life of almost puritanical strictness which was then considered essential for a clergyman, and he saw that the impediment of speech from which he suffered would greatly interfere with the proper performance of his clerical duties.' Yet it is clear that this is no more than a retrospective rationalisation of a situation in which Dodgson's major reason to doubt his fitness for ordination is masked. True, his delight in the theatre was something of an obstacle ... [but had] Dodgson genuinely believed that theatres were intrinsically evil he would have had no difficulty in shunning them." (*7)
Ann Clark dismisses Collingwood's loyal apologia and proposes a theory of her own. She argues that the reason Dodgson did not become a priest was because of his oft proclaimed sense of personal unworthiness (*8). He did not consider that his lifestyle fitted him for the priesthood.
This is not likely. While he undoubtedly had very high personal standards, it is clear from the evidence available that Dodgson was actually living a most pious and dutiful life. The sense of personal unworthiness he felt must have stemmed from another source entirely. A source so publicly damaging that this extraordinarily honest man sought to conceal it behind unconvincing protestations that his stammer prevented him from giving sermons and therefore stopped him becoming a priest. This is despite the fact that he actually gave twenty sermons in the year of 1865!
Ann Clark herself seems not entirely happy with her theory, and introduces a second possible reason for Dodgson's unwillingness to take full Holy Orders:
"There was a further problem that troubled Dodgson. He had a curiously naive belief that others could be converted to his way of thinking if only his arguments were logical enough. His own reasoning processes were startlingly precise, with each thought developing in a seemingly natural sequence from that which preceded it. Yet for all his logic he overlooked one elementary fact: that those with whom he had to deal might be illogical and not disposed to be converted." (*9)
This proposal becomes less convincing if we examine Dodgson's main argument in detail.
It transpires that he is unwilling even to try to convert other people:
"Here is the problem he states, with a wealth of detail that shows he has been working on it for years:
'I believe that God is perfectly good. Yet I seem compelled to believe that He will inflict Eternal Punishment on certain human beings, in circumstances which would make it, according to the voice of my conscience, unjust, and therefore wrong.' ...
He states the four logically possible propositions -- (1) that endless punishment would be unjust -- therefore God is capable of sinning. (2) That God is perfectly good -- therefore He would be right even is conscience says, 'No'. (3) That God is good -- such punishment is wrong -- but the Bible says He could act thus. Hence the Bible is unreliable. (4) That God is perfectly good -- such punishment is wrong -- God would not act thus -- the Bible (in English) seems to say He acts thus -- therefore the translation is wrong, and the Bible, my conscience, and my God are all trustworthy.
'Anyone of these four views may be held without violating the laws of logical reasoning. Here ends my present task; since my object has been, throughout, not to indicate one course rather than another, but to help the Reader to see clearly what the possible courses are and what he is virtually accepting, or denying, in choosing any one of them.'"(*10)
Mrs. Lennon goes on to argue that Dodgson is actually telling the reader what to think, but I think she is wrong. I feel that he has woven his material into the most acceptable argument he can find, but that he is not fully convinced of it himself, and is too honest to force upon others what he cannot believe himself. Hence his equivocal conclusion and, I suggest, the reason why he could not take full Holy Orders.
It was impossible for such a supreme rationalist as Dodgson to ignore the evidence which proved that the Bible was wrong. The Good Book was full of "impossible things". But the religious establishment of the day meant that he could not question it and retain his faith at the same time. It was all or nothing. Dodgson could not forgo the belief in God which was so important to him. He may not even have been able to face the fact that he must have had doubts about God's existence.
This was his dilemma. On the one hand, Dodgson had the powerful religious faith which he had carried since childhood; on the other, he had his unequivocal belief in the supremacy of logic, a logic which was screaming at him that his faith was wrong. For a man like Dodgson, it was not possible to ignore such a dilemma. But neither was there any possible resolution. He needed to find a way to live with both sets of beliefs.
Dodgson's doubts about religious creeds manifested themselves in the creation of an alter ego. He could not openly discuss his doubts in the unyielding Anglican world in which he lived, but neither could he repress them. So he invented Lewis Carroll, an amoral, childlike man who relied on logic and who excluded religion from his fantasies, a man who could play with ideas about the nature of reality but never be forced to reach a final decision.
"In a letter to child-friend Mary Mcdonald, 1864, Carroll warned 'If you set to work to believe everything, you will tire out the muscles of your mind, and then you'll be so weak you won't be able to believe the simplest true things.'" (*11)
Carroll could write about believing impossible things quite openly while his creator could not face the fact that he could neither believe nor disbelieve in them, if he were to be true both to his religion and to his logic.
The Victorian religious conflict between faith and logic clashed resoundingly in Dodgson/Carroll, and he became two separate people in order to live with the dilemma. The Alice books are full of dualities and opposing but identical forces: red and white chess pieces, playing cards, Kings and Queens, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. I suggest that Dodgson/Carroll became a dual personality in order to keep within himself both of the main Victorian belief systems: God and Science.
The Victorian period was one of immense social and intellectual developments. Knowledge was increasing on an almost daily basis and was becoming more widely available to the mass of the people. With increased knowledge comes an increased ability to make up one's own mind. Victorians no longer had to accept unquestioningly what they were told. This situation came about -- not coincidentally -- at the same moment in history that the establishment itself began to divide on intellectual, moral and social issues; it no longer presented a united front. Faced with a nation of people questioning their beliefs for the first time, and an establishment which seemed unable to give unequivocal guidance as to what such beliefs should be, it is inevitable that a crisis of faith would ensue. It is also inevitable that people would find themselves with no creed at all.
By dividing his personality to create Lewis Carroll, Dodgson remained true both to his faith and to his reason. In doing so, he achieved the one thing that proved impossible for most Victorian intellectuals.
1. Pillow Problems by C. L. Dodgson, p x. Pub. Dover, New York, 1958.
2. "The Warfare of Conscience With Theology" by J. L. Altholz in Religion in Victorian Britain, IV. Ed. G. Parsons; pub. Manchester University Press, 1988.
3. Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, Ch.5.
4. "On Speaking Plainly -- 'Honest Doubt' and the Ethics of Belief" by Gerald Parsons in Religion in Victorian Britain, II. Ed. G. Parsons; pub. Manchester UniversityPress, 1988.
5. Lewis Carroll, Fragments of a Looking Glass by Jean Gattegno, p.211. Pub. George Allen and Unwin, London, 1977.
6. ibid. p.212
7. Lewis Carroll, A Biography by Ann Clark, p.114. Pub. J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1979.
8. ibid. pp. 118-120.
9. ibid, pp. 115-116.
10. The Life of Lewis Carroll by Florence Becker Lennon, pp.114 -115. Pub. Dover Publications, New York, 1972.
11. The Annotated Alice edited by Martin Gardner, p.25 1n. Pub. Penguin, Middlesex, 1965.
ONE DAY IT WILL BE YOUR TURN
"You are old, Father William, the young man said,
And your hair has become very white.
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
Around 15 September each year, the Japanese celebrate "Respect For The Aged Day", and I have often wondered why we do not do the same. We do not need to, you might argue. We have Mother's Day and Father's Day, we are gradually introducing the American custom of celebrating Grandparents' Days. So why do we need another Day of celebration for the old folk?
Well, first of all I would point out that not all old folk are parents or grandparents. Even those who are do not necessarily receive the affection from their offspring to which they should be entitled.
But more importantly, I think there is a significant difference between doing the washing up for your Mum once a year or sending Grandpa a bottle of rum, and actually respecting the aged. Respect is very different from love. Respect means you look up to people, you appreciate them for their particular qualities, you show them how much they are valued. It is part of love, certainly, but it can exist without it. You do not need to love someone to respect them.
But you do need to know them. What about the old man who sits in the park every day feeding the birds? Do you have any idea what his life has been like? What he did in the war? What he worked at until he grew too old to be considered useful?
And what about the old lady who comes into the charity shop once a week to sift sadly through the second-hand overcoats? Was she pretty when she was young? Why can she not afford a new coat now? What brought her to this?
How is it that we do not know these things? Because we never ask! Many of us see old people as shuffling impediments who clutter up the pavements and fill up the buses and get in the way of useful people like us, young, vital people who have jobs to go to and important things to sort out. We do not have the leisure to listen to the ramblings of some old fogey who has endless time on his shaky hands. When the faculties dim and the movements slow, a person ceases to have any value. They become figures to be ignored, and, if they try to retain some spirit, they are patronised and treated like children, as Father William is in Lewis Carroll's poem above.
This is wrong and it is unfair. People mock the old soldier who talks about having fought in the war to save the generations who follow him from tyranny, but what he says is true. There are many people alive now who did fight in the war, and where would we be if they had not. How many of us would stand face to face with an enemy nowadays, march through fields of choking mud, face tanks and guns to defend our homeland? Yet the people who did all this are afraid now to go out at night lest they be attacked by young thugs. Thugs whose vicious blows may hurt less than the contemptuous stares and impatient jostles which the aged have to suffer every day of their lives.
Old people have seen much and learned much. They are a living history walking amongst us, repositories of knowledge and memories which can never be replaced if we let it die without being passed on. Talk to old people, ask their opinions, seek out their advice. RESPECT THEM! We shall be all the richer for it.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BILLY BUNTER?
Clearing out a cupboard the other day, I came across a tattered old copy of one of Frank Richards' "Billy Bunter" books. Leafing nostalgically through its yellowing pages, I began to wonder what might have become of all those childhood characters that those of us born before the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Supermario Brothers used to read about.
The fate of many of them was recorded in the books themselves, assuming one had the patience (or money) to plough through an often lengthy series. Narnia turned out to be Heaven in the end, and all the plucky little boys and girls who had enjoyed its exciting environs in the earlier stories were given their just reward. Dorothy eventually brought Aunty Em and Uncle Henry into Oz to live out their days there. As no-one ever dies in Oz, presumably they are there still.
Lewis Carroll's impatient "Alice" was based on a real child, Alice Liddell, the daughter of Dean Liddell of Christ Church College, Oxford. She grew up to become Mrs Hargreaves, and lived to a ripe old age in a manor-house outside Lyndhurst in the New Forest. To her dying day, she insisted that her servants address her as "My Lady", though she had no title; proving that age did not rob her of any of the charming imperiousness which Carroll noticed in her as a child.
Some characters are still going strong, though they may have taken on a harder edge than we remember. Both Superman and Batman are still using their amazing powers to fight crime, but Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and many other American comic book heroes seem to have given up their places in the annals to zanier creations like the Mask.
However, many of the people who populated our young imaginations appear to be eternally trapped in their terribly English worlds of the past. As I looked through the old book, I began to wonder what might have become of some of them if they had grown up as we did.
Perhaps the Borrowers would all have moved into Legoland, and spent their daylight hours pretending to be animatronic models for the amusement of the troops of visitors who have no idea that they are really tiny people who live off what others leave behind.
The Wombles would be busier than ever, trying to clean up the mess left by humans passing over Wimbledon Common. But I suspect they will have picked up a few discarded mobile 'phones by now, and are able to co-ordinate their efforts in a much more efficient manner. Orinoco and Great Uncle Bulgaria are too old ever to leave their burrow, but they can give instructions to the younger Wombles over the air.
The Famous Five will surely all have gone their separate ways. Julian's notable lack of self-doubt and sense of honour and justice must have led him to a career in politics, and he is doubtless a leading Tory Cabinet Minister at this very moment. Dick's pugnaciousness and ability to follow orders without question suggests a career in the armed forces, though he may have joined the police instead. Anne will, of course, be happily married, with several children and be a leading member of her local Women's Institute. Cross-dressing George will be living in North London, running a Militant Feminists' Press from a small flat which she shares with a female dispatch writer from Hampstead. Timmy the dog ... is dead. (I'm sorry, but one has to be realistic; dogs can't live that long! Nor, for that matter, could Champion the Wonder Horse, Flipper, Skippy, or Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion.)
Dennis the Menace married Beryl the Peril and they both work for the Fonejacker guy, helping to design his jolly pranks on unsuspecting members of the public.
Pollyanna became a psychotherapist and works for Relate. Her most frequent clients are William and Violet Elizabeth Brown.
Little Orphan Annie inherited Daddy Warbuck's millions and devoted herself to charity work in his memory. (Her dog died, too.)
And so on. This is an entertaining little game with which you can amuse yourself with for hours, and, if you're a writer, even use to provide some inspiration when the dreaded writers' block takes hold.. Perhaps you have your own ideas about the characters I have mentioned, or about other favourites from your youth. I found it very enjoyable just sifting through my memory for so many once loved names, and I hope you will too.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Whatever became of Billy Bunter? He was diagnosed as having a life-threatening eating disorder and has been institutionalised for the past 20 years.
In the 21st century, it's not so easy to find a happy ending.