"But there is no one that I know of, who deserves to love you, Agnes"

This sentiment is thought to express how Dickens came to idealize his deceased sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, whose tombstone he had  inscribed with the words “Young, beautiful, and good, God in his mercy numbered her with His angels at the early age of seventeen.”

The infant mortality rate was high in Victorian England, and the idea of “angel children” became a popular one. J.M. Barrie drew on this idea in his creation of the Lost Boys of Neverland, who featured in his play, Peter Pan (1904).