Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A VISIT TO THE HOME OF CHARLES DICKENS

On Saturday I managed to get out and start a bit of festive photo blogging. And my
first port of call was a visit to the former London home of literary giant Charles Dickens.
The house at 48 Doughty Street Bloomsbury is now a museum housing many of Dicken's
personal artifacts.
And being the month of December the organizers of the museum had the house decorated
throughout with lots of festive decorations. After all we do tend to associate Dickens
with this time of the year, although he didn't actually write A Christmas Carol while
living here, but he was working on some ideas for a Christmas story that would

eventually lead up to the release and publication of 'A Christmas Carol.'

With his new young wife Catherine, Dickens moved here to Doughty Street in
1837, the year Queen Victoria began her long reign. But the family only stayed
here for the next three years in what hat has often been described as a very fruitful
period for Dickens.
Joining the family at Doughty Street was Catherine's Sister Mary who sadly died
at the young age of only 17 in 1937.  This had a great impact on Dicken's life
who it is now believed was very emotionally attached to the young Sister. And some
writers have hinted at Dicken's unfullfilled sexual attraction for the young 

Mary Hogarth. Apparently Dicken's once confided in a close literary associate that
he would often dream of Mary at night. And when Mary died in the arms of Dickens in
1837 it was one of the biggest upheavals in the writers life. He put aside all his
writing work while publishers were screaming over his writing commitments.

While visiting the upstairs rooms at Doughty Street I looked in on the room where
the young Mary died. Even her white gown is still layed out on the bed. But for some
reason while being deep in thought I forgot to take a few pictures of the top floor
bedrooms with their typical Victorian four poster beds.

I did make a short video of my visit to the house which I posted up on my Youtube
page, but I was thoroughly disappointed with the outcome. Maybe it was because
many of the rooms were quite dark. I also feel quite lost without the steadying effect
of a camera tripod. But I enjoyed my little visit prying around on all four floors. And
thankfully there weren't staff and volunteers standing guard in every room like they
annoyingly do at Hampstead's Kenwood House. This allows you time to quietly stand
in any of the rooms at Doughty Street and take it all in, alone in  peace and 
quiet with just your thoughts.

For more information on The Dickens home, visit their website.

THE CHARLES DICKENS MUSEUM 


Above and below is The Dining Room on the ground floor. And it's in this
room where Dickens and his family spent many happy hours socialising
with London's literary elite.

Gawd Bless Us All!

While one visitor seems interested in the Dining room table layout
it looks like the husband is more interested in Mr Pickwick's Clock.
Above is the festively decorated Drawing Room on the first floor where Dickens
would often give impromptu performances and readings.
And on a visit to this room you can hear voice recordings by Museum patrons
Simon Callow and the wonderful Miriam Margolyes reciting some of Dicken's works.

I wonder how many times Miriam Margolyes has played the role of Queen Victoria
in her many colourful drama roles. Of course I can never resist watching her
in that annual tv festive comedy with Rowan Atkinson in The Black Adder's Christmas
Carol. The highlight being when Atkinson playing a Dicken's inspired Scrooge character
banishes the visiting Queen Victoria (Miriam Margolyes) from his humble abode
little realising that it is in fact the real Queen.


Situated on the first floor is Dicken's study. And it's here we see the very desk and
chair (above) where he wrote 'Great Expectations'  'A Tale of Two Cities'  and
'Our Mutual Friend.'
It's also here that he kept all his reading books.

Above: Click on picture to enlarge and read.
Above and Below: The Ground floor Entrance and Gift Shop.

Below left: A portrait of the younger Dickens looking fine and dandy which hangs
in the Ground floor Dining Room. The portrait is by Samuel Drummond (1837).

And there was I thinking it was actor Alan Cumming. There's definitely a strong
resemblance.

Below right is a new reprint edition of Oliver Twist which was published last year
by MacMillan Collectors Library.




And so after leaving The Dickens Museum I made my way over to Kings Cross and
St Pancras Station to see the big Christmas tree all decorated in roses.
Then I popped in next door for another visit to The British Library where there
must have been some children's event as there were kids absolutely everywhere.
Oh yes, there was a big Harry Potter exhibition going on.
And while there I also popped in to the Library's Gift and Bookshop where I
bought an interesting book called 'A Very British Christmas' (image below).

Below: I didn't realize until recently that I've actually got
three copies of Dickens Christmas Carol. But then there's
one book I don't mind having several copies of.
But I wonder why it's only around this time of the year that
I prefer to read it over and over.
Dickens on a Kindle reader! Never!!!

9 comments:

  1. The house appears to be comfortable without being too grand. We claim Miriam as one of our own now, since she lives here.

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  2. Andrew, Yes the house wasn't over grand like Kenwood House.

    Amazing that just as in Dickens days, a short distance from his house leads you to a less prosperous part of town. He would often walk around those areas where there was poverty and hardship... Perhaps for writing inspiration.

    I didn't know that we had lost Miriam if she has now moved down under. She's been quite busy with TV work lately, even making a wonderful TV documentary about St Ives in Cornwall and it's art colony.

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    Replies
    1. Andrew.... Miriam playing Queen Victoria in The Black Adder Christmas Carol visits Black Adder's house along with her husband Albert and servant. She says to Baldrick who answers the door..."We are the Queen."
      And Baldrick replies. "What, all three of you."

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  3. Thanks Dee!! Nice post!! The house seems as it should! Thanks for the information where the house was located near the poorer part of town! I bet he did go their for his writing inspiration!! And I agree Dickens should be read from a book NOT A KINDLE!!

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  4. Pete, Yes the house is in the affluent area of Bloomsbury. In days of old they used to talk about the Bloomsbury set... groups of writers and artists. And yet just around the corner are lots of cheap hotels and Bed & Breakfast houses, generally places for families that have been thrown out of their properties by scrupulous landlords.
    But i was pleased to see The Dickens House, particularly at this time of the year.

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  5. Better to be read from a printed edition I agree, but better read on a kindle than not at all. I see the film The Man Who Invented Christmas had opened to rather poor reviews. Dan Stevens, late of Downtown Abbey, is Dickens, Jonathan Pryce is his dad and the great Christopher Plummer is Mr Bah Humbug himself. Simon and Miriam also star. I remember owning an LP of the soundtrack of Pickwick with Harry Secombe ruling the world. - Ian

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  6. Ian, They do seem to bring out a new Scrooge/Dickens inspired film every Christmas. But I can't help liking the Albert Finney version. It's our favourite one. I think we watch it every year.
    Oddly enough I always that that the worst Scrooge was played by George C. Scott, and yet he was always considered a fine actor. Totally miscast in that one.

    I saw a clip with Christopher Plummer. My, he sure is getting on now. They had a tv show on about the great Hollywood musicals and how many of the stars never actually sang in those films. Apparently Plummer's voice in The Sound of Music wasn't really up to scratch so someone else really stood in for him.

    I wonder what role Miriam plays in the new film, she's such a big bundle of fun. She recently did a wonderful tv documentary about the artist Alfred Wallis who lived and painted in St Ives Cornwall, and standing outside Wallis's former home she noticed that two tourists just walked past the house giving it no attention. She almost dragged them back and repremanded them for ignoring such a local landmark. So funny that was. As a student Miriam was loaned a Wallis painting from her library .
    And in the tv documentary she was once again introduced to that painting she loved so much. And seeing that painting again brought her to tears. A wonderful moment.
    In that documentary she descibed herself as a small fat Jewish lesbian!

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  7. Miriam is Mrs Fisk, whoever she was, and Simon is illustrator John Leech. - Ian

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  8. BAH ! HUMBUG ! 🍸 ☮ 😂 🍸 & 🍸

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