Charles Dickens is the quintessential London Victorian author. Much of how we imagine Victorian London to be is conjured up in the pages of his novels. Come with me and visit the house where he created Oliver Twist and other stories, the Charles Dickens Museum.
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48 Doughty Street
Even the name Doughty Street somehow sounds Dickensian. Step inside to hear the story of a man who was the son of a man thrown into debtors prison and ended up as the grandest literary lion in town. 48 Doughty Street is home the Dickens moved into with his new young wife, it is easy imagine the young Dickens family noisily occupying the house.
Charles Dickens’ Desk
The thing that you want to see most of all in an authors house is where they did their writing. You need to be able to envision them scribbling away furiously or staring into space seeking inspiration. What the Dickens did they do before they had Twitter to procrastinate with?! Feast your eyes on the desk where Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby.
Elsewhere the house is furnished with period pieces but not those that the great man would have used. No matter the spirit of his age is evoked brilliantly. The dining room the table is set for a dinner party with each place setting having a picture of the guest, meanwhile hidden speakers provide a background babble of Victorian street noise.
Shadows of Dickens invite us to climb the stairs to explore the house. Once upstairs the rooms are furnished as you would expect but that walls are adorned with quotes from Dickens. Everywhere there are piles of books that invite you read them on the cover.
My image of Charles Dickens has always been of a rather portly man. His court dress is on display at the Charles Dickens Museum and shows him to have actually cut rather a dashing figure.
Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum
Charles Dickens pretty much invented Christmas as we know it. Christmas isn’t Christmas without at least one rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Come Christmas the Charles Dickens House is decorated in high Victorian style. Stepping across the threshold of 48 Doughty Street in December is to enter Christmas past. Sprigs of holly and candles are everywhere you look. The drawing room boasts a magnificent Christmas tree. Presents containing toys for the Dickens children crowd around the base of the tree. Check the museum website for details of special Christmas events.
A Great and Dirty City: Dickens and the London Fog until 22 October 2023
Fog swirls around Dickens’ novels. A Great and Dirty City: Dickens and the London Fog which looks at just why London was so foggy in the 19th century and how Dickens used it in his novels. A first edition of Bleak House (the reason I swapped English for Chemistry A level) Dickens’ foggiest novel and a selection of original foggy illustrations will be on display.
How to get to the Charles Dickens Museum and other essential information
- 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
- Check website for Covid opening times, booking essential
- Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm.
- Admission: Adults £12.50
The Charles Dickens Museum has a delightful cafe which can be visited even if you are not seeing the rest of the house, it is one of my favourite London Museum Cafe’s. Nearby you can find the Foundling Museum, London’s first childrens charity and public art gallery. If you enjoy visiting houses check out my post about London’s Historic Houses.