A good friend of Charles Dickens was philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts.
You may have heard of Coutt’s bank, a private bank for the sickeningly wealthy (prospective clients need at least half a million in disposable funds!) As the grand-daughter of the Banks founder (Thomas Coutts) Angela inherited a vast fortune when she was just 23 (In 1837), making her the second richest woman in the country after Queen Victoria.
She then devoted herself to a supporting a vast array of charitable causes- over the course of her life, it is estimated that she donated around £400 million (Imagine what that would be in today’s money!)
Most notably she founded the RSPCA, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and also the NSPCC, the The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, both still going strong.
She also worked with Dickens to build homes for the poor and establish schools for disadvantaged children in the East End.
In her personal life after scandalising Victorian society for many years turning up to events with her lady companion Hannah in tow. She set tounges wagging again when at the age of 67, she became engaged to her secretary, William, who was just 29 years old! Queen Victoria even paid a visit to her home in Highgate to try and talk her out of it – she was not amused! However, despite the 38 year age gap the marriage appeared have been a happy one and lasted until her death in 1906, aged 92.
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