DICKENS, Charles (1812-1870). Autograph letter signed (with initials, ‘CD’) to [Georgiana] Morson, Tavistock House, 31 October 1852, two pages, 8vo, bifolium; envelope.
DICKENS ORDERING UNDERWEAR FOR A REFORMED PROSTITUTE. Writing to the Matron of Urania Cottage, Dickens requests that she ‘send under-clothing for Eliza Wilkin now living with her father at 18 Market Row Oxford Market – with money for her to get a warm bath – or two would be better’. Mrs Morson is to instruct her to bathe, ‘that she may be perfectly clean and wholesome; and make an appointment to call for her, say on Wednesday or Thursday next’. His concern also extends to sartorial matters: ‘She has a gown that will do for her to come in – I suppose you have not one ready? Bonnet and so forth, you had better send her, I think. She is rather a short girl.’
On the return of the Dickens family from the continent in early 1847, the author poured his energy into the social reform enterprise set up with the support of the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts, a home for 'fallen women' in Shepherd’s Bush named Urania Cottage, of which the recipient of the present letter, Georgiana Morson, was matron from 1849 to 1854. As illustrated here, Dickens was to play a characteristically active role in the guidance of these women, which extended to assisting successful ‘graduates’; just as characteristically, his social concerns also fed into his fictional creations, in the character of the redeemed prostitute, Martha, in David Copperfield. The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, VI, pp. 644-5.