Saturday, February 15, 2020

Charles Dickens

Two friends suggested that the four of us all visit the Charles Dickens Museum  in Doughty Street London WC1  earlier this week.

The museum was interesting and had a great refectory which suited us perfectly as I am sure that looking for a relatively inexpensive place for lunch in central London, during a working weekday, would not have been straightforward.

Charles Dickens himself was  hugely intelligent and interesting author but in his personal life appears almost unpleasant.

His father however was not well off and indeed had been arrested for debt and sent to Marshalsea Prison. He was joined there later by his wife and younger children but was later released.

Charles himself married Catherine Hogarth and they went on to have ten children though some died early on. His relationship with his wife was odd at least in my view, as he seems to have divorced or at least separated in about 1859, yet she remained on as a housekeeper of some kind in what had been the family home. Presumably divorce was far from straightforward at the time and  the prospects of the former wife receiving a fair share of the family's assets were bleak hence the need for her to remain even if in a subservient capacity rather than end up on the streets.

The museum's rooms were very well laid out. Possibly though visiting mid week during the winter months, meant that we had ample room to wander around, stopping to admire particular works or  written details in rooms spread over three floors.

The maytree's youngest grandchild has yet to be potty trained and I noticed the Dicken's potty equivalent. This is a rather more attractive affair than the small potties in C21 use though unfortunately I could not find a picture.

Many of Charles Dicken's works were on display including some rare editions of his books and some  recently acquired letters, writing implements and artwork.

Charles Dickens enjoyed his drink and the exhibits included part of his wine cellar. As stated in "Smartnews":
One letter, headlined “Wine,” includes instructions for a dinner party. Dickens writes, “At supper, let there be a good supply of champagne all over the table. No champagne before supper, and as little wine as possible, of any sort, before supper.”
The author adds that his favourite drink will be too strong for all party guests except Mark Lemon, founding editor of British satirical magazine Punch. Per Dickens, “[Staff members] Mitchell or John to keep gin punch in ice under the table, all evening, and to give it only to myself or Mr. Lemon.”

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting, Jerry. I'm afraid very few great authors are as attractive in real life as they are in their books! An exception, curiously enough and in my opinion, would be P.G. Wodehouse. I think the wartime episode which ruined his reputation, can be put down to innocence rather than cowardice.
    In his daily life, he comes across as a thoroughly kind, gentle and thoughtful person.

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  2. P.G. Wodehouse Barnaby I know best from the old "Jeeves" TV programmes though vaguely recollect some publicity about his wartime broadcasts to the USA. Given that he had been taken prisoner by the Germans first I surmise that you may be right. Emigrating to France for tax reasons though seems odd as tax in France is surely not much lower than in the UK today?

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