Exploring the London Dickens Knew
Joseph Hawkins '09 - Today we went on a walking tour of Dickens’ London. It was cool to see the places Dickens visited and lived during his life. It really helped us to be able to put pictures with the names of places in the books we’ve been reading throughout the course.
We visited the Charles Dickens House Museum, which was located in one of his old houses in the city. In the museum we saw a lot of artifacts from Dickens’ life, including the desk that he designed to be used during his speaking tours. We also saw manuscripts from those speaking tours, in which Dickens would act out all the dialogue from his works as each character. Reading the manuscripts was a lot different than reading Dickens in book form because he wrote himself a lot of notes, including at one point telling himself to “shudder” at certain parts of the writing. This gave me an insight into Dickens as a performer, which is something that has interested me since we started reading Oliver Twist.
One of the funnier things that we learned during the day had to do with the place that Dickens’ father worked during his childhood. The building was a huge, beautiful structure that housed the headquarters of the Royal Navy in London. That in itself is not funny, but about one hundred feet down the street was the chapel in which Dickens’ mother and father were married. This, of course, led to numerous jokes by the group about his father getting married and then running back to work as fast as he could to get away from her.
We’re walking a lot, but we’re also learning a lot, and I’m having a great time.