“Regardless of misfortunes tho’ howe’er bitter they may be, I shall always have one retrospect, a hallowed one to me, And it will be of that happy time when first I gazed on thee.” A young Charles Dickens in 1830 fell in love with Maria Beadnell. In her scrapbook, Dickens wrote his earliest poems.
To celebrate Valentine's Day we meet Miriam Margolyes, patron of the Charles Dickens Museum, as she recites this early love poetry. From Margolyes we learn that Beadnell was "a little flirt" and "a very selfish minx". She was also Dickens' first and possibly most passionate love.
There was no happy ending to the love story. Maria Beadnell lived on as the fat, silly character Dora Finchly in Dickens' Little Dorrit, which Margolyes played in the 1987 film. Don't let this ruin your Valentine's mood. Here's the film we made for the Charles Dickens Museum: