Mary Scott Hogarth (1820 – 1837) was a sister-in-law to Charles Dickens whose death at an early age profoundly affected the author.
Mary Scott Hogarth was born in Edinburgh in 1819. Mary was one of ten children, including Catherine Hogarth (1815) and Georgina Hogarth (1827). Her father, George Hogarth, was a talented writer and worked as a journalist for the Edinburgh Courant.
In 1834 she moved along with her family to London where her father had taken a job as a music critic for the The Morning Chronicle. The family lived at Queen’s Elm, Brompton, then a rural area of orchards and market gardens on the fringes of the city.
Mary Hogarth entered Dickens’s Doughty Street household to offer support to her newly married sister, Catherine and brother-in-law. It was not unusual for the unwed sister of a new wife to live with and help a newly married couple. Charles Dickens became very attached to Mary.
Mary died after a brief illness in the arms of Charles Dickens on 7 May 1837.
Charles arranged to have Mary buried in Kensal Green Cemetery and composed her epitaph.
MARY SCOTT HOGARTH
YOUNG BEAUTIFUL AND GOOD
GOD IN HIS MERCY
NUMBERED HER WITH HIS ANGELS
AT THE EARLY AGE OF
Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist is the first of many Dickens characters based on Mary.
She was not past seventeen. Cast in so slight and exquisite a mould; so mild and gentle; so pure and beautiful; the earth seemed not her element, nor its rough creatures her fit companions.
Like Mary, Rose is struck with a sudden deathly illness. Unlike her, she survives.
Her death is also fictionalised as the death of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop.