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© Andy Beck, Teesdale Gallery
Bowes Hall, Yorkshire - Feb 2009 - photo- Andy Beck
This building has hardly altered since the early 1800s and will be much as Richard Cobden viewed it.

click here to return to Richard Cobden - - Visit Andy Beck at the Teesdale Gallery

Cheap boarding schools in Yorkshire were advertised in the London papers with an emphasis on no holiday and were a convenient place to dispose of unwanted or illegitimate children. Dickens and his illustrator Hablot Browne travelled incognito to Yorkshire on a fact-finding mission in January 1838. There they encountered William Shaw, headmaster of Bowes Academy, in whose school several boys had died or went blind from mistreatment and neglect.
Visiting a cemetery in the area Dickens found the graves of many of the students of these schools and one in particular Dickens said: "put Smike into my head". Smike was the abused inmate of Dotheboys Hall, the fictional school he based on Shaws Bowes Academy in Nicholas Nickleby. The fictional headmaster of Dotheboys Hall, Wackford Squeers, was based on William Shaw.
The ignorance of the schoolmaster Squeers is more than a comic exaggeration. Edgar Johnson, in his biography of Dickens, notes that as late as 1851, many of the schoolmasters and mistresses in private schools signed their census returns with a mark only.

Dotheboys Hall, Bowes, Yorkshire - Feb 2009 - photo-text- Andy Beck
At the bottom of the main street stands Dotheboys Hall. Charles Dickens visited Bowes in February 1838 and this hall which at that time was a notorious Yorkshire School featured in his classic novel Nicholas Nickleby.

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Dotheboys Hall, Bowes, Yorkshire - 1930s, 100 years after Dickens visited
Gravelroots archive - click to enlarge and further images

click here to return to Richard Cobden - - Visit Andy Beck at the Teesdale Gallery

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