Shown alongside Daniel Maclise’s portrait of Charles Dickens as the bright young writer, also on view in room 24, this display marks the bicentenary of the author’s birth in February 1812 and explores his legendary status as the ‘best understood and widely loved writers’ of his time. Comprised of prints, drawings, and photographs, the display charts the key aspects of Dickens’s life, including his family, friends and influential contemporaries, as well as his American encounters during his tours to the country in 1842 and 1867.
Still revered as the ‘most English of story-tellers’, Dickens’s works continue to define our perception of the Victorian age. The display considers his lasting influence with images of the actors who have portrayed his characters over the years, such as Cecil Beaton’s striking view of Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham in David Lean’s Great Expectations of 1946. Certain posthumous drawings by Harry Furniss are also presented to reveal how the famous ‘Boz’ was memorialised by his peers.