The 109th International Dickens Fellowship Conference was held in Wills Hall, University of Bristol, UK
23rd - 28th July 2015
Charles Dickens and George Müller
George Müller was born in Prussia in 1805. In 1829 he came to London to work, then, in 1830, moved to Teignmouth to become minister at the Ebenezar Chapel. He married Mary Groves of Exeter and, in 1832, the couple moved to Bristol, where Müller became joint minister of the Bethesda Chapel in Great George Street. In 1836 the Müllers converted their home into an orphanage and began a long and illustrious service to the City of Bristol, eventually providing the five huge houses that formed the Müller Orphanages at Ashley Down, which are now Grade II listed.
In 1857 Charles Dickens became concerned about hearsay relating to the sound management of the Müller Orphanages - or the Müller Homes as they were more often called. He travelled to Bristol and, by sheer stubbornness, succeeded in undertaking a tour of the homes. So impressed was he with what he found, that he wrote a long piece about Müller and his work in the November 7th edition of Household Words.
Many older Bristolians will have grown up taking the Müller homes for granted. But the piece by Dickens provides a whole new dimension to most people's understanding of Müller the man, of the homes he ran, and of the colossal contribution those homes made to the lives of so many Bristolians.
Dickens' Household Words article can be read in either its original form, or as a PDF typescript by clicking on the relevant link of the two which appear below. Each link will open in a new window:
Much interesting information on Müller and Bristol can be found by visiting Robert Cutts on Flickr. Robert is a retired lecturer from Bristol Polytechnic and taught there when it was at Ashley Down after the Müller Homes closed there.
A lot more can also be found by visiting were there are details of Müller's life, of the current work the trust does, and of the Müller Museum at Ashley down
Visit to see the originals of Household Words, Household Narrative, Household Words Almanac and All the Year Round.