Today, the first works of art and objects, which will tell the story of Dickens in a new exhibition exploring one of the worlds most influential authors, have been taken out of storage at the Museum of London
. The exhibition will examine the central relationship between Dickens and London the city that inspired much of his work and that he described as his magic lantern.
Often walking the streets at night, Dickens would build in his mind the settings, plots and characters of his novels. Evoking the atmosphere of the streets of Victorian London and the river Thames , visitors will follow in Dickens footsteps and be taken on a memorable and haunting journey, discovering the places and subjects which sparked his imagination.
Every noise is merged, this moonlight night, into a distant ringing hum, as if the city were a vast glass, vibrating. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
There has not been a major exhibition on Charles Dickens in the UK since 1970. Dickens and London - opening 9 December 2011 - will be the largest exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2012. It will reveal that Dickens was the first great novelist of the modern city and the age of mass culture. Original and rarely seen manuscripts of his most famous novels, including Bleak House and David Copperfield, will be on show.
The display will examine the central relationship between Dickens and London the city that inspired much of his work and that he described as his magic lantern. Often walking the streets at night, Dickens would build in his mind the settings, plots and characters of his novels. Evoking the atmosphere of the streets of Victorian London and the river Thames , visitors will follow in Dickens footsteps and be taken on a memorable and haunting journey, discovering the places and subjects which sparked his imagination.
The great social questions of the 19th century will be investigated including childhood mortality, prostitution, and wealth and poverty. They will be set against the new features of the modern industrial age such as steam boats, railways, the electric telegraph and the penny post. The display will end with a specially commissioned film, The Houseless Shadow, by William Raban, one of the UK s leading documentary filmmakers. It will explore the continuities between London after dark as it is now, compared with how it was described by Charles Dickens over 150 years ago.
Key objects on display will include:
*Dickens writing desk and chair;
*the only surviving costume of the famous clown, Grimaldi;
*Dickens bank ledger;
*Luke Fildes painting Applicants for admission to a casual ward;
*excavated items from Jacobs Island ;
*manuscript pages describing the East End opium den featured in Dickens last, unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood and William Powell Friths celebrated portrait of Dickens, both lent by the V&A.
Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London and lead curator of Dickens and London, said: Dickens is the first author to describe the modern city of the 19th century and its profound impact on society and, in particular, on ordinary people. London was Dickens inspiration. He knew its alleys and streets better than anyone. His writings remain relevant today especially for the rapidly developing mega-cities around the world today, which face many of the problems and challenges that impacted on Victorian London 150 years ago.
The official book of the exhibition, Dickens Victorian London by Alex Werner will be published by Ebury Press, £25 on 5th January 2011. Advance copies of the book will be on sale at the Museum of London when the exhibition opens.
Dickens and London opens at the Museum of London on 9 December 2011 and runs until 10 June 2012. Ticket will go on sale from July 22nd.