Dickens' Secret Lover

Episode Guide

Charles Dickens and his secret love

The very symbol of Victorian virtue in public, for 13 years Charles Dickens conducted a secret love affair with actress Ellen Ternan, possibly fathering two children who died in infancy.

Attempts to conceal the affair involved a frantic double life with complex financial arrangements, networks of safe-houses and bonfires of private letters and papers. It also entailed a series of ruthless acts which caused misery and irreparable rifts in his family.

This programme revisits surviving locations where Dickens conducted his romance in near-total secrecy, piecing together the pieces of evidence that testify to their love. Interviews with experts, aficionados and descendants of the great man explore the effect the affair had on Dickens and his legacy.

Dickens' Secret Lover synopsis

Taking the form of a fast-paced detective story, this is the story of Charles Dickens - the greatest Victorian of them all - and the great hidden love of his life, Nelly Ternan

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