Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty St

Front of 48 Doughty St with blue medallion signifying the address of prominent London residents, in this case Charles Dickens.
On a quiet tree-lined street is the Charles Dickens Museum. A short walk from my hotel, I chose to make a visit before heading farther afield. Dickens (1812-70) lived at various addresses in London and this is his only surviving address where he wrote the classics Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.

Though there was not a huge crowd at the museum, I was surprised at the steady stream of visitors. Every few minutes or so, you would hear the buzzer to request entry and the footsteps across the creaky ground floor. Never underestimate the audience of a classic author. Situated on four levels, begin with the 30-minute video that gives a background on Dickens. While at the museum, you learn of the romance in Dickens' attachment to Mary, the older sister of his brother's wife. Mary died in Dickens arms after an illness in 1837 and became a character in several of his novels.

Drawing room
Throughout the museum are manuscripts, first editions, personal effects and memorabilia. The drawing room where Dickens entertained guests is in the Regency style and restoration of the basement wash house and cellar conveys the atmosphere of Dickensian London. Restoration of the home continues today.

Of particular interest and probably the best known exhibit is the portrait called Dickens Dream. The unfinished portrait shows Dickens in his study surrounded by characters from his books. The portrait and the museum is featured prominently in the Matt Damon film "Hereafter".

Dickens' Dream portrait.
Located on 48 Doughty St, the museum is opened Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 11am-5pm. Admission is £6. Purchase the museum brochure to help guide you through the museum and alert you to significant exhibits. Nearest tube stations are Holborn, Chancery Court (closed Sun) and Russell Square. More info at dickensmuseum.com.


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