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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:19:59 -0800
text/plain (41 lines)
Friends of the Dickens Forum,

Please excuse the disorder of your receiving the responses to Michael 
Allen's question about wills in
Dickens.  The reason is personal, of course, and gradually 
disappearing....  Here John Drew
<[log in to unmask]> looks toward Dickens's attitude toward past 
and future.  (pjm)

Dear Michael,
> It seems to me that for Dickens the concept of a Will was something that, as a progressive reformer, meritocrat, and opponent generally of anciens régimes, he instinctively resisted, perhaps almost jealously, as a symbol of the past's attempts to bind the future, and of the efforts of the privileged few to maintain their (usually) illegitimate superiority over the many. Looking outside the fiction, where the prospect of an inheritance, qv Bleak House, is seldom anything but a blight, the superb four-part exercise in investigative journalism which Dickens oversaw and co-wrote with W.H. Wills, 'The Doom of English Wills' (Sept-Nov. 1850; see http://www.djo.org.uk/indexes/articles.html Search 'Doom of English Wills' as Title) would definitely be worth looking at. I also like the figure of 'Mr Testator' in 'Chambers' who is represented as bequeathing a dark legacy on the tenant who comes after him (see 'The Uncommercial Traveller' No. 13 http://www.djo.org.uk/all-the-year-round/!
>   volume-iii/page-452.html).
> All good wishes
> John
> ------
> Friends of the Dickens Forum,
> Michael Allen <[log in to unmask]>, who unearths details
> about Dickens's
> life and works which are brilliantly spot-on, has a
> request:                                (pjm)
>> Dear Patrick,
>> May I pick the collective brains of Dickens-Listers for information about
>> Dickens' use of wills in his writings.  The will that brought riches to
>> William Dorrit springs immediately to mind, and the will of Miss Havisham
>> that Pip thought would deliver his great expectations but didn't.  Dickens
>> also had David Copperfield working among the wills at Doctors' Commons.  But
>> can anybody point me in the direction of wills elsewhere?
>> Many thanks,
>> Michael Allen.