• Cindy

6 things I didn't know about Charles Dickens

Updated: Jul 27, 2019

I have to admit I have watched more Charles Dickens' stories than read them! Yet I have been eager to visit his house in London for years. He's famous for books such as Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby but here are six things I didn't know about him!

1 Dickens was fascinated by travel. He travelled to Europe and North America and also encouraged his children to travel. Two of Dickens children went to Australia.

2 Dickens had a strict routine, writing without distraction from breakfast to lunch. Great inspiration for my currently undisciplined writing life.

Charles Dickens writing desk

3 Dickens' wife, Catherine, published a recipe book called 'What Shall We Have for Dinner?' Roast Lamb, Stewed Kidneys, Curry Rabbit, Ducklings, Orange Jelly, Custard, Cabinet Pudding.... I'm feeling ill just writing it!

4 Dickens had digestive problems - and no wonder with the recipes in his wife's book. He describes symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome - '...distension, flatulency, and disagreeable pains in the pit of the stomach and chest...'

5 Dickens was a social justice warrior. He experienced poverty in his childhood and his father spent time in debtors prison.

6 Dickens was an actor. He delighted in hosting amateur theatricals at his home. Later he performed his book readings on stage to great acclaim.

Most inspiring for me was reading excerpts of his great writing, and seeing his editing of his own work - no backspace button in those days.

I have most certainly put his books on my 'to read soon' list.

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I love to have a sweet treat in the pantry and to pop into the school lunch-box but I also want it to have some nutritional value. This week I’ve been into nut cakes – carrot cake with lots of walnuts and this moist orange almond cake. Nuts are rich in protein and healthy unsaturated fat - great for good health!

This cake is easy to make – but you do need a food processor. It’s very high in protein from all the eggs and almonds, and it’s gluten free.

(Some baking powders are not gluten free so check the pack if you are making this cake for someone who can’t have gluten. If you dust the cake with icing sugar, as in the photo, check it is gluten free too.)



2 oranges

6 eggs, lightly beaten

250 grams sugar

300 grams ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

Boil oranges in a little water for 1-2 hours.

Chop oranges roughly and let them cool down a bit. Then blend well in food processor with all the other ingredients. Line a large pan with grease-proof paper. Make sure the pan is large enough so the cake isn’t too thick or it will take too long to cook. Bake at 180C/350F for 1 hour – or perhaps a bit longer.

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