Blinding insight: Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, 1812. His father was a clerk in the Admiralty. He earned 80 a year, but had a large family, so he was often short of money. Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, was also born in Portsmouth. Her father was a lieutenant in the Royal Marines, although he had so many children, he could hardly have been away to sea. I don't what he was doing. Perhaps his talents lay in press-ganging or perhaps administration. In any case, he was a lower middle class man working for the Admiralty with a large family and money worries. Charles Dickens could have been one of Fanny Price's younger brothers.