Latest Issue

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect