According to E.D.H. Johnson, Dickens's affair with Ellen Lawless Ternan, which lasted until his death, had several influences on his work: "The girl's name certainly influenced the naming of the heroines of the last three novels, Stella in Great Expectations, Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend, and Helena Landless in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The willful and imperious ways of the first two of these characters represent a noteworthy departure from the earlier ideal of saintly meekness embodied in Florence Dombey, Agnes Wickfield, Esther Summerson, and Amy Dorrit. And there can be no mistaking that Dickens' later fiction explores sexual passion with an intensity and perceptiveness not previously apparent" [26-27].

Related Material


Johnson, E. D. H. Charles Dickens: An Introduction to His Novels. Random House Study in Language and Literature Series. New York: Random House, 1969. [full text]

Last modified 1988; link added 15 December 2013