Charles Dickens Museum

As it’s almost Christmas it make sense to write a post about Charles Dickens, as A Christmas Carol will likely be watched soon. Last year we visited the Charles Dickens museum and watched a one man show of A Christmas Carol using puppets. When we visited the museum it was recently refurbished after a long renovation. There are helpful staff in the museum and the guide/ map was useful to get around what is essentially a self-guided tour.

Dickens moved here in 1837, a year after getting married, when he was 25 years old and wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby here. The museum stretches across two townhouses, but when Dickens lived here for two years he only lived at number 48.

There is a decent shop on the ground floor and a popular café too. The one man show took place on the first floor and you can hire out the museum to hold drinks receptions or private dining, as well as private guided tours.

In the drawing room on the first floor there is a podium which Dickens used to read from, and in another room is Dickens’ writing desk, and he apparently had a very strict writing schedule. Dickens’ sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, died in this house when she was only 17; affecting Dickens’ writing as there are so many deaths and death scenes in his work.

The nursey and servants’ bedroom are in the attic, which had a little exhibition of the period when Dickens was a child and his father was in a debtors prison. This exhibition was interesting, although a little claustrophobic considering it is on the top floor.

I do enjoy reading Dickens and I am proud to say that Bleak House is, to date, the longest book I have ever read. It made sense to visit the museum in December, when it was decorated so festively. I respect the man’s work, his lifestyle in his later life I find a little more questionable: he maintained a mistress and a love child whilst already having 10 children, staying married, writing and publishing copious amounts of work. He really was a busy man, how did he have the time to lead his double life?!

I appreciate that the works I have read are episodic and keeps you interested in reading and keeps you on your toes. I also appreciate that Dickens’ work highlighted the plight of the working class and critiques poverty in the Victorian period. Essentially I found the social commentary in his works fascinating to read, and I believe Dickens was heavily influenced by Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables.

All in all, a nice little exhibit of what a Victorian household would have looked like at the time. The one man show was ok, not a necessity to watch a show or play when visiting, just a nice little add on. It should be noted that although most London museums are free, this little museum costs £9.50 for adults and £4.50 for children over 6 (children under 6 go free). Definitely worth a visit even if you are not a hardcore Dickens fan.

Charles Dickens Museum - interior and exterior photography
Taken from Wikipedia

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