Picture of a scene from The Frozen Deep, performed in 1857 by the Guild of Literature and Art in private theatricals at Tavistock House.  This play, originally written by Wilkie Collins, was modified substantially by Dickens in rehearsal and featured Dickens as producer, director, and actor in a leading role.  The play was in part an answer to the charges of cannibalism leveled at lost polar expedition leader, Sir John Franklin.  The play earned the compliments of Queen Victoria.  Dickens decided to take his Company of Strolling Players on the road and arranged to stage performances in Manchester in August 1857.  Up to this time, the cast of The Frozen Deep had consisted of Dickens's friends and members of his family. However, Dickens decided that professional actresses should now take the female parts.  Three of these roles were then filled by an acting family, the Ternans; mother Frances, and two daughters, Maria and Ellen.  Dickens and Ellen performing together in The Frozen Deep marked the beginning of a relationship that would develop into a notorious liason.  When they first met in 1857, Ellen was eighteen, and Dickens forty-five.