Remembering Dickens

By | Category: Travel destinations

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the death of one of the most popular and well-known novelists that the UK has ever produced – Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens birthplace in Portsmouth

There can’t be many people in the our countries who wouldn’t recognise a couple of his novels at the very least be it A Christmas Carol with Scrooge and Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist with the boy who asked for more as well as characters like Fagin and the Artful Dodger along with David Copperfield giving us Mr Micawber, Betsey Trotwood and Uriah Heap.

In this anniversary year, you can expect these and many other characters to be be obvious at locations connected to Dickens.

It was in Gads Hill Place on the outskirts of Rochester in Kent today in 1870 that Dickens died aged just 58, a young age by today’s standards. It was here that he wrote his last four novels, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Our Mutual Friend, the ghost story – The Signal Man and started on his unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Today the Grade One listed building is usually open for tours on certain weekends but the pandemic had put paid to visits for the foreseeable future.

There are two other places long connected with Dickens, Portsmouth being one because that was where the author was born in February 1812. His birthplace is a museum but that won’t be open either to Dickens aficionados.

When he was just three, the Dickens family moved to Kent and then to London where he lived in many places including a debtors prison. As a family man he lived briefly at 48 Doughty Street in London and that also is a museum. It contains the only item of clothing that he wore and which still survives. Like Portsmouth and Gads Hill Place, this museum is closed until the virus allows museums and galleries to re-open.

In the meantime rather than visit places connected to Dickens, avid fans will have to settle for reading his books again and imagine how many words, characters, places and insights into Victorian England wouldn’t exist but this one man.

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