Visiting the homes of great men can be a disappointing experience, this is not the case with the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury. 48 Doughty Street is home the Dickens moved into with his new young wife, here he wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby. It is easy imagine the young Dickens family noisily occupying the house.
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. Luckily Dickens’ desk is on show so we can imagine him creating.
Elsewhere the house is furnished with period pieces but the man himself is evoked brilliantly. In 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.
The Charles Dickens Museum has space for special exhibitions the current one Restless Shadow: Dickens the Campaigner, highlights the fact that Dickens was a working and campaigning journalist as well a writer of fiction. He edited and owned a series of magazines, they featured his stories that appeared week by week only to appear as a book after all episodes had appeared; much like today’s box sets. He sat down to work on the newspapers on Wednesday’s. The chair that he sat on for, what I like to think of as his Cultural Wednesdays is on display until 29 October 2017.
Doughty Street is a little off the beaten track (not that much it is in WC1 after all) but is well worth seeking out. There is a café with lovely garden in which to gather your strength for the onwards journey. At Christmas the Charles Dickens Museum is decorated in a suitably Victorian manner, you can read about Christmassy visit by clicking here.
CHARLES DICKENS MUSEUM
48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
Open: January – November, Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
December open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Admission: Adults £9, concessions £6, Children £4