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The way we were: Philanthropy

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   May 2016

In August 1837, Angela Burdett-Coutts inherited the fortune of her grandfather, Thomas Coutts, estimated at £1.8m. She devoted herself to philanthropy, conceiving the idea of Urania Cottage—a hostel where female petty criminals and former prostitutes could be trained in useful skills—with her friend Charles Dickens.

In August 1847, the Duke of Wellington wrote her a warning: “I have heard of the manner in which you dispose of your money, and indeed… I am astonished that you should have any left! You, like me, are supposed to be made of gold, and everybody supposes that it is only necessary to touch you…

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