Drouet's Orphanage

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Drouet's Orphanage




If Woodhouse Grove represented the best of the charity schools, Drouet's Orphanage represented the worst.  Drouet's was the type of place where children who had no one to look after them eded up: a workhouse orphanage.  Charles Dickens wrote critically about Drouet's anonymously in the Examiner and also subjected it to further satire in Bleak House with the character of Guster, short for Augusta.  Guster, an orphan girl who works as a maid for a stationer named Mr. Snagsby was raised in a workhouse overseen "by an amiable benefactor . . . at Tooting" (Dickens 117). Guster, an epileptic, is subject to fits, due to having been starved as a child. A note in the Norton Critical edition revelas that this is almost definitely a reference to the real Drouet's workhouse orphanage, which was also in Tooting, and was "notorious for its maltreatment of the inmates, who suffered from overcrowding and lack of food and sanitation. In 1849 a severe outbreak of cholera, in which 150 children died, led to ciminal charges being brought against the proprieter, Drouet, 'the amiable benefactor'" (note 117).


Frances Thielman


Dickens, Charles.  Bleak House.  ed. George Ford and Sylvere Monod.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1977.  Print.




Frances Thielman, “Drouet's Orphanage,” Appalachian State University, accessed December 3, 2023, https://omeka-dev.library.appstate.edu/items/show/19.

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