Charles Dickens Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Charles Dickens Museum

London, England, United Kingdom

Amy Irvine

22 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Charles Dickens Museum

The Charles Dickens Museum is situated in the Victorian family home of Charles Dickens in Holborn, London. This is where the author wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby, and first achieved international fame as one of the world’s greatest storytellers.

History of the Charles Dickens Museum

Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine moved to this Georgian terraced house (his only surviving London house) at 48 Doughty St, London on 25 March 1837, a few months before Queen Victoria began her reign, until December 1839. While here, Dickens penned some of his most famous works. The couple also raised the eldest 3 of their 10 children here (the older two of Dickens’s daughters, Mary and Kate, were born in the house), and hosted many of the period’s leading figures with dinners and parties.

Dickens’s younger brother Frederick also stayed here, as did his wife Catherine’s 17-year-old sister Mary, to offer support to her married sister and brother – as was fairly usual for a woman’s unwed sister at the time. Dickens became attached to Mary, who died in his arms after a brief illness in 1837 and inspired characters in many of his books.

Dickens’s study is at the centre of the house. In this book-lined room he wrote an extraordinary number of newspaper articles, journal essays, short stories and novels – with a quill pen and often by candlelight. He was frequently inspired by the busy household of family, servants and guests around him.

The house was renovated and the Dickens House Museum was opened in 1925.

The Charles Dickens Museum today

Today visitors can uncover the private world behind Dickens’ public image and explore his study, the family bedchambers, and the servants’ quarters below stairs – gaining a glimpse of life in middle-class Victorian London. Treasures on display include Charles Dickens’s desk, handwritten drafts from the novels he wrote here, and his young wife’s engagement ring. Visitors are also able to walk through rooms dressed with their furniture, table ware, portraits, marble busts, china ornaments and paintings.

Around 100,000 pieces make up the museum’s collection, including letters and furniture, clothes and illustrations, all relating to Charles Dickens and his creations.

Additionally, the museum presents a programme of special exhibitions, workshops, performances and talks on Dickens’s life, work and legacy. There is also a Garden café and shop on the site. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am until 5pm.

Getting to the Charles Dickens Museum

As with all London sites, it’s best to arrive via public transport. The nearest underground stations are Russell Square (Piccadilly Line), Chancery Lane or Holborn (Central Line) or Kings Cross St Pancras (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines and national and international rail services). They are all around a 10-15 minute walk away.

Bus numbers 7, 17, 19, 38, 45, 46, 55, 243 also stop near the museum. The museum is part of London’s ‘Museum Mile’, a walking route that links it with 14 other extraordinary museums all within a 1 mile radius.

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