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Charles Dickens: a writing lifetime

Posted on 06/02/2012

‘Our Johnny’ by Marcus Stone. From Charles Dickens: 'Our Mutual Friend'

To celebrate Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday on 7 February 2012, King’s has created a new online exhibition showcasing a selection of writings by, and documents related to, Dickens from the College collections. The exhibition features rare, early and original material – published and manuscript – representing the breadth of his writing career.

Items on display date from all eras of Dickens’s writing life and demonstrate the range of his achievement, including materials from The Mirror of Parliament – a parliamentary journal run by Dickens’s uncle, John Barrow, for whom Dickens worked as a young man as a shorthand transcriber of Parliamentary proceedings; an unfriendly review by a contemporary, concerning Sketches by Boz and Pickwick, and a unique manuscript letter in which Dickens withdraws his son Charley from King’s College School, where the boy had acquired the dangerous killer-disease scarlet fever, causing a traumatic family panic.

Also featured are the first editions of seven of Dickens's major novels and a copy of a fine speech given by Dickens in support of free health care for the poor, as it was originally printed for charitable distribution.

The exhibition has been assembled by guest curator Dr Ruth Richardson, Visiting Senior Research Fellow in English, in association with Stephanie Breen from the Foyle Special Collections Library at King’s.

A second online exhibition is planned for later in the year which will focus on other materials from the Foyle Special Collections Library associated with Dickens and the Victorian poor.

For more information about the exhibition please see: or contact

For further information about King’s see our ‘King’s in Brief’ page. 

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