Posted by: hiddenlondon | January 26, 2012

Charles Dickens 200th Birthday

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens in the 1860's

February 7th 2012 sees London celebrate the bicentenary of one of its most famous residents, Charles Dickens.

~

“It was a foggy day in London, and the fog was heavy and dark”
‘Our Mutual Friend’

Charles Dickens was one of London’s most well-loved residents, and perhaps the one who did most to create the image of smog and dirt, which many people have of the city to this day.

Born in 1812 inPortsea, Charles Dickens moved to London at the age of ten when his family moved to Bayham  Street, Camden.  Sadly this house is no longer standing, like so many of the places in London which Dickens called home in his lifetime.  However, between 1837 and 1840 he lived at 48 Doughty St.WC1, which now operates as the Dickens House Museum.  It was here that he wrote both ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘Oliver Twist’, as well as parts of ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and ‘Barnaby Rudge’.

It can be assumed that Dickens had a hard childhood, since his father was sent to Marshalsea Debtors Prison, near the site of today’s Borough Market.  He wrote about the area, but little of it can still be seen, except for The George pub,London’s only remaining galleried inn, at 77 Borough High St.

At sixteen, Dickens became a court reporter, then progressed to work on the ‘Mirror of Parliament’, a newspaper reporting on the daily proceedings of Parliament. He became interested in social reform and started contributing articles to the radical newspaper, the ‘True Sun’.

In 1833 Dickens had his first story published in the ‘Monthly Magazine’, using the pen-name of ‘Boz’.  His stories became so popular that they were collected together and published as a book entitled ‘Sketches by Boz’ (1836).

Dickens was then commissed to write ‘The Pickwick Papers’ in twenty monthly installments. This was followed by a number of novels published between 1837 and 1843.

‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ was one of these, and it is still possible to see the building which claims to be the inspiration for the shop, in Portsmouth St WC2.  The shop, built in 1567 and believed to be the oldest shop in London, is now a listed building.

As well as writing, Dickens also edited journals, including ‘The Daily News’, ‘Household Words’ and ‘All Year Round’.  He published his own works in these journals, but also championed the work of other authors such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins.

If you want a relaxing way to get a flavour of Dickens’London, several pubs frequented by the writer are still standing.  Try The Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall E1, The Grapes, 76 Narrow St, Limehouse, E14, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet St EC4 or The Trafalgar Tavern Near the old Royal Navel College, King William Walk SE10.

A website has been set up in hounour of this special year, with details of the many events taking place in London, and around the country.  Dickens 2012.

‘It is a silent, shady place, with a paved courtyard so full of echoes, that sometimes I am tempted to believe that faint responses to the noises of old times linger there yet, and that these ghosts of sound haunt my footsteps as I pace it up and down.’

‘Master Humphrey’s Clock’

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Responses

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog, (Anne?). Dickens (required reading) was always a favorite author. And the Olympics – any rooms at the inn left for visitors? All the best.

    • Glad to year you’re a fan of Dickens! On the Olympics, I think there’s plenty of places to stay still, but tickets to events are very hard to come by – although I think re-sales will go up in April. Good luck if you fancy the trip!

  2. Thank you dear Anne, for visiting my blog and also for your nice comment. I am so glad to meet with you and with your blog. Charles Dickens, is one of my favurite writers too, I think most of people too. Where I read I can’t remember now, and also was it about him or not… it is said that the London fog became to be known when he wrote in his novels… It was something like that. The power of words, so the writer how amazing and great. Thank you for this post, I wished to be there too. With my love, nia

    • thanks Nia! you’re so right about the power of words, and Dickens did so much to create our image of London.

  3. What a wonderful way to celebrate such a great author! Great post!

  4. Thanks Theresa. He was a great author, and you can learn so much about London from him!


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