By the time Charles Dickens was working long days in the factory at the age of 12, he had already lost two siblings (via Charles Dickens Page). When he was 2, his brother Alfred Allen Dickens was born, yet did not survive his first year, perishing after just six months on Earth. Years later, his little sister Harriet Dickens died. Little is known about her, including the time and cause of her death, but it’s said that she lived past infancy and had already developed a relationship with Charles before her death, possibly from smallpox, according to author Keith Hooper’s book “Charles Dickens: Faith, Angels and the Poor.”
Older sister Fanny died of consumption at the age of just 38, leaving behind a crippled son who was the inspiration for the character Tiny Tim. Fanny was very close to Dickens during their childhoods, having worked in the factory together.
More tragic was the life of his younger brother Fred, who took after their father in terms of money management. Living off of his famous brother’s name, Fred spent time between local taverns and debtor’s prisons, before dying at the age of 48. Dickens’ two youngest brothers, Alfred and Augustus, died before their 40th birthdays, leaving behind wives — two in Augustus’ case — that Dickens supported financially. He also supported Letitia Mary, the only sibling to outlive the famous author. While his name and work have stood the test of time, the novelist’s life was one filled with tragedy as he struggled to support his family’s bad habits and untimely demises.