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When Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan met in 1857, she was 18: a professional actress performing in his production of "The Frozen Deep." He was 45: a literary legend, a national treasure, married with ten children. This meeting sparked a love affair that lasted over a decade, destroying Dickens's marriage and ending with Nelly's near-disappearance from the public record. In this remarkable work of biography, Claire Tomalin rescues Nelly from obscurity, not only returning the neglected actress to her rightful place in history, but also giving us a compelling and truthful account of the great Victorian novelist. Through Dickens's diaries, correspondence, address books, and photographs, Tomalin is able to reconstruct the relationship between Charles and Nelly, bringing it to vivid life. The result is a riveting literary detective story--and a portrait of a singular woman.