Exploring the Legacy of Charles Dickens

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17 February 2012
imports_HAC_theoldcuriosityshopin_69562.jpg The Old Curiosity Shop in Miniature by Celia Thomas
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens's birth, we take a look into the ways we can celebrate his work in miniature. ...
Exploring the Legacy of Charles Dickens Images

This photo is of a beautiful project made by Celia Thomas of KT miniatures to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles' Dickens birth. His novel 'The Old Curiosity Shop' is set in around 1825 and tells the story of Nell Trent, a young girl who lives with her maternal grandfather in his old curiosity shop. Her grandfather's quest is to ensure Nell does not have to die in poverty as her parents did. Of course, the journey involves a lot of twists and turns, helped along by the main villain of the piece, the terrifying Daniel Quilp.

With evictions, breakdowns, villainy, and great sadness, it is a tale that can't guarantee a happy ending but one that will take you on a breathtaking journey. Celia's adaptation of a peek inside the Old Curiosity Shop has been made in the form of a book and instructions for making it were published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine, issue 213 if you wish to have a go at making a similiar scene yourself. The instructions can also be adapted to produce other scenes from Dickens titles, perhaps Miss Haversham from Great Expectations, or Fagin's loft from Oliver Twist?



Born in Portsmouth on 7th February 1812, Charles Dickens experienced the highs and lows of Victorian England. His schooling was interrupted when his father was imprisoned for bad debt and Charles was put to work in a factory where he endured appalling conditions. Despite returning to school three years later, the experience was never forgotten and can be found in a number of his better-known novels.

Following in his father's footsteps, Charles became a journalist. In April 1836 he married Catherine Hogath and soon afterwards published 'Pickwick Papers'. Responsible for some of the most iconic novels and characters in English literature, the literary genius of Charles Dickens had begun.

The most popular format of publication during this time was the serialisation of stories in monthly installments. Where other authors would create the entire novel at the start, Charles created each episode as required, ensuring his readers kept coming back for more. These included such classics as 'Pickwick Papers', 'Oliver Twist', Nicholas Nickleby' and The Old Curiosity Shop'.

In November 1851 Charles had moved to Tavistock House in London where he produced 'Bleak House' and Little Dorrit' amongst others. Also produced from this house were 'A Tale of Two Cities' in 1859 and 'Great Expectations' in 1861.

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The  house in London is now the Dickens Museum. Here is housed the world's most important Dickens collection with over 100,000 items including manuscripts, rare editions, persional items and paintings.

In June 1870, a father of 10, and estranged from his wife and with mistress Ellen Ternan at his side, Charles Dickens suffered a stroke and died. He is buried at Westminster Abbey. The lifetime works of this great man live on and continue to entertain us just as they did when first written.

If you wish to visit the Dickens Museum in London, it is situated at 48 Doughty Street, London. Please visit their website to find out more information about opening times etc at the museum. It is well worth a visit. Website: www.dickensmuseum.com (you will have to copy and paste this website address into your web browser).

This feature was originally published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. If you like making miniatures, why not buy yourself a copy of the magazine. Or better still take out a subscription so you never miss an issue. For fans of Facebook and Twitter, or to email, print or comment on the feature, please use the buttons above to share with your friends.


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