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Betsey Trotwood is a fictional character from Charles Dickens' 1850 novel David Copperfield.

Role in novel

She is David's great-aunt on his father's side, and has an unfavorable view of men and boys, having been ill-used and abandoned by a worthless husband earlier in life. She appears in the novel's first chapter, where she demonstrates her uncommon personality and her dislike of boys when she storms out of the house after hearing that David's mother has had a son, rather than the daughter to whom Trotwood intended to be the godmother.

Betsey Trotwood plays a bigger role in David Copperfield's later life by taking him in after he has run away from labelling wine bottles in the factory in Blackheath where his stepfather, Edward Murdstone, had placed him to work after the death of David's mother. She provides him with a place at a good school in Canterburymarker and opportunities for a career in Doctors' Commons, thus showing her complex character.

The character is based on Miss Mary Pearson Strong who lived at Broadstairsmarker, Kentmarker. Her former home now hosts Broadstairs' Dickens House Museum.

There is a public house in Clerkenwell, Central London called The Betsey Trotwood. It adopted the name in 1983, having previously been The Butcher's Arms.

Film and television portrayals

Year Title Betsey Trotwood played by:
1935 David Copperfield Edna May Oliver
1969 David Copperfield Edith Evans
1993 David Copperfield Andrea Martin
1999 David Copperfield Maggie Smith
2000 David Copperfield Sally Field

External links


  1. Dickens, Charles 'David Copperfield' Published by Bradbury & Evans (1850)
  2. [1] Strong on The Dickens Fellowship website
  3. [2] Website of The Betsey Trotwood

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