Episode Detail: Terror to the End - Dickens
Conclusion. Host Peter Ackroyd charts the final 12 years of Dickens' life, beginning in 1858, the “year of the great stink” in fetid, disease-ridden London. It's captured in such novels as “Bleak House.” Dickens' personal life, his marriage in particular, was no less bleak, and he finally banished---but didn't divorce---his wife. He also began a “secret life” with a young actress named Ellen Ternan, and took refuge in the adulation he received at public readings of his works. But they took a physical toll, and as his health declined, he “pushed himself too hard, too far,” Ternan (Natasha Little) says. And he died of a stroke on June 9, 1870. Anton Lesser plays Dickens.