London, Jan 16 (ANI): Renowned author Charles Dickens reportedly had a son with his sister-in-law, and a ring once owned by the author is being taken as a proof of the alleged affair he had with his wife's sister.
For much of his life, Dickens was surrounded by rumours claiming that he had a long-standing relationship with Georgina Hogarth, the family housekeeper, who moved into his house after his marriage to her older sister Catherine and stayed with him after she had left.
Dickens had countered claims that Georgina had borne him three illegitimate children.
But now, a previously undocumented gold ring set with a single 0.9-carat diamond has emerged.
An inscription has detailed that Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate and one of Dickens' closest friends, in 1854, presented the ring to the author.
Later, it landed into the hands of Hector Charles Bulwer Lytton Dickens, who claimed throughout his life that he was the novelist's son.
And now Hector's descendants are selling the ring with letters, two wills and newspaper cuttings that they say help to prove his claim.
"Hector Dickens acquired the ring from one of Charles Dickens's legitimate sons who had been given it by his father. Perhaps one reason he was prepared to part with what must have been a treasured possession is that they were half-brothers," Times Online quoted Nigel Ward, an auctioneer from Pontrilas, Herefordshire, as saying.
While Dickens was claimed to be a respectable family man-with a wife and 10 children - it was rumours about Georgina that really angered him.
Dickens described the claims about his relationship with Georgina as "monstrous misrepresentations" in his journal Household Words.
Ward said: "The fact that Hector was Charles's son has long been the understanding of the ring's custodians."
Florian Schweizer, curator of the Dickens Museum in Doughty Street, Central London, said that the ring could turn Dickens's history "on its head".
He said: "There have been rumours of them having an affair but it has never been substantiated because there has never been any reliable evidence emerge. They lived together for the last 13 years with Georgina as a friend and companion, but Dickens also had a mistress at the same time."
The ring is being sold with a guide price of 25,000-35,000 pounds on February 21. (ANI)