The Museum of London styles the new Charles Dickens exhibition as 'the first major UK exhibition for over 40 years.' It's designed to appeal to lovers of Dickens of all ages and each section is constructed as a separate chapter. Throughout you are never able to forget that the writer spent many years of his life living and working in the capital city and that London and its inhabitants are the very fabric of his novels.
You will see handwritten proofs and manuscripts of many of Dickens's stories, plus letters and even a cheque written by him. There are many contemporary Victorian paintings that demonstrate the social themes that inform his books. Costumes, objects and photographs illustrate the themes of the narratives. Playbills remind us of the theatricality of the novels and of how they were adapted for the stage. Indeed it is believed that by vigorously performing his tales in front of his adoring public, Dickens took himself to an early grave. Among the major highlights of the exhibition are the desk and chair that were used to write many of the novels at his Kent home, Gadshill. These pieces of furniture are accompanied by an audio-visual presentation bringing to life an unfinished painting of 'Dickens' Dream' by Robert W Buss.
You will learn how both nineteenth-century life and living conditions, and the writer's own childhood experiences, influenced the preoccupations that dominated his work. You will discover how Dickens had an incredibly acute ear for different dialects, and reproduced them accurately in his novels, and you will learn of the insomnia that resulted in his night walks through London. Should you want to rest your feet for a while, you will be able to sit and watch a documentary film exploring present day night time London, to a background reading of an extract from Night Walks. It is evident that Dickensian social concerns about the homeless are still to be seen 150 years after the essays were written. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why we continue to enjoy his works today when we have similar social concerns and our society is still far from perfect.