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What Is the Charles Dickens Museum?

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  • Written By: Angie Pollock
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Originally named the Dickens House Museum, the Charles Dickens Museum is a public museum located in London, England. Located at 48 Doughty Street, the museum was the home of writer Charles Dickens and his family from early 1837 until the end of 1839. Dickens Fellowship purchased the residence and it was opened as a museum in 1925. As of 2011, the museum is one of 12 British museums and galleries that makeup London’s Museum Mile, which extends from King’s Cross to the River Thames.

Charles Dickens was a copious author during the 19th century, with his works still being admired and studied in the 21st century. Some of his most celebrated achievements include David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities. It was during his occupancy at the Doughty Street residence where Dickens wrote various acclaimed works including The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby. His former home, now the Charles Dickens Museum, covers four floors and holds some of the greatest Dickens’ treasures including original manuscripts and rare paintings, as well as personal items that belonged to the writer.

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Dickens moved into the Georgian-style house on Doughty Street with his wife Catherine Hogarth-Dickens approximately one year after their marriage. Soon after their arrival at Doughty, the couple would welcome the first three of their ten children, along with Catherine’s sister Mary and Dickens’ brother Frederick. Many major events would occur in Dickens’ life while living at the home, including the beginning works on Oliver Twist, the birth of his first son Charles, and the death of his sister-in-law Mary. Mary would become a major guise in later Dickens’ novels, including The Old Curiosity Shop.

The home on Doughty Street where the Charles Dickens Museum is located is the only surviving Dickens’ residence left in London. Later homes occupied by the Dickens’ family were larger and grander than that seen on Doughty Street due to the Dickens’ ever-growing family and the increase in wealth experienced by one of England’s most notable writers. The Dickens’ would also travel and live abroad for years at a time. For several years starting in the mid-1840s, the family traveled and resided in Italy and France while Dickens penned Pictures from Italy and Dombey and Son.

Since its opening in 1925, millions of visitors have toured the Charles Dickens Museum. The museum features various events and displays special exhibitions throughout the year. Special film screenings, reading groups, and group viewings are held daily, with private viewings available before opening to the public in the morning and after closing in the evening. The Charles Dickens Museum has expanded over the years to include a museum café, scenic garden, and gift shop.

Charles Dickens’ home in Portsmouth, England, where he was born in 1812, has also been transformed into a preserved museum. The Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum recreates how the home would have appeared during the early 1800s when Dickens was born to John and Elizabeth Dickens. This museum also houses various Dickens’ memorabilia including the couch on which Dickens died on 9 June 1870.

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