Discovering Dickens

I would never have known I had this connection with the world’s greatest story-teller!”
— E.A.A. Wilson

When my personal historian at Wisteria told me about this strange connection with the Dickens family, things started coming together. 

As it happens, my family moved to London from Wakefield in around 1820 (and then my namesake by complete coincidence, Elizabeth Wilson, was the first Wilson to be born in London. That was 1821!) One of the reasons the Wilsons moved to London during this time was because of my great-great-great-uncle wonderfully named Haydn and his younger brother William Price James Wilson. (It’s true. We’re eccentric.)

Haydn was a budding musician (of course) and his father also had musical aspirations, and the family moved to London where the opportunities would be so much more plentiful. Hopefully they would find their pot of gold.

Haydn enrolled in the Royal Academy of Music and actually attended around the same time as Charles Dicken's little sister Fanny.  Haydn's baby brother Mozart was born in London Read more about Dickens and Music here.

In fact, the Dickens family moved to London around that time too and lived about a mile from the Wilsons. I do hope they crossed paths and perhaps even knew each other a little. Maybe the Dickenses brought a plate of scones round to celebrate Mozart’s eventual success. Perhaps the Wilsons shared a plum pudding with the Dickenses to congratulate them on Charles’ epic stamp on literary history.

Haydn was eventually described in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1829 as “a young composer in the Royal Academy of considerable promise.” and became resident organ player at St Mary's Newington. He later wrote a heap of organ music which is currently held at the university library at Cambridge. He never married, and eventually moved back to Wakefield in later life to live with his sister Jane Nicholson (of the organ making Nicholsons).

Mozart and Haydn had a nephew also named John Mozart (yes, I know…) who went on to quite a bit of musical success and is the subject of my mother's great interest - she's a personal historian specializing in Victorian London (very convenient for me and Scott!). This Mozart Wilson (the younger) also happens to be an ancestor of Sylvia R. Swann, the editor of my novel Ascension Denied.

My family were (and still are) a mind-boggling bunch of cartoons who serve as excellent characters for a book! For example, Haydn’s uncle went bankrupt a few times, was a journalist and explored Afghanistan and Persia before running a dramatic society in India somewhere - no mean feat in those days. I think he’d make a smashing cameo character in the next book.