Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Monday, February 6, 2012


Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
at his writing desk [source]

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens! Tomorrow, February 7, marks the bicentenary of the birth of one of Britain's most beloved authors. There is a lot going on this month in London to celebrate (go to Dickens2012) and I'd give my eyeteeth to be there, wouldn't you?  Since that can't happen, I thought I'd take a virtual tour of some of the important places from Dickens' lifetime and works. Want to come along?

Let's start with his birthplace in Portsmouth, England. It's been a museum since 1904...
Dickens' birthplace [photo source]
According to the city's website, "the Dickens family stayed in Portsmouth until 1815 when John Dickens' job forced the family to move to London. Although Charles Dickens' time spent in Portsmouth was short, he did return on three separate occasions; on one occasion he carried out research for his book Nicholas Nickleby."

Number 48 Doughty Street, London
The Charles Dickens Museum: Number 48 Doughty Street in the heart of London's Bloomsbury, was Charles Dickens' family home, where he lived from 1837 until 1839. He described it as "my house in town".  Some of his best-loved classics were written here, including The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.

The museum (which opened in 1925) holds over 100,000 items including manuscripts, rare editions, personal items, paintings and other visual sources. CLICK HERE for a video that gives you a peek of the museum's public archives.

Stained glass window from Dickens Museum, London [source]

Little Dorrit meets St. George... The Church of St. George the Martyr has strong connections with Charles Dickens. The surviving wall of Marshalsea Prison in the Southwark section of London, where Dickens' father was imprisoned for debt, adjoins the north side of the churchyard.

Original gate arches of Marshalsea Prison wall. [source]

Dickens himself lived nearby, in Lant Street, in a house that belonged to the Vestry Clerk of St. George’s. This was during the darkest period of Dickens' life when, as a teen, while his father was in debtor's prison, he had to work in the blacking (shoe polish) factory.

Later, he was to set several scenes of the novel Little Dorrit in and around the Church of St. George the Martyr. St. George's has come to be known as "Little Dorrit's Church," because it was where Dickens' young heroine was baptized and later married. Today, her likeness is represented in a corner of the stained-glass window found on the east side of the church.

Where is Dickens buried?  Poet's Corner, in Westminster Abbey.

David Copperfield has long been at the top of my list of favorite books. Which is your favorite book by Charles Dickens?
Click HERE for Library School Journal's excellent LIST
of books for all ages, written by or about Charles Dickens.


  1. My favorite is A Tale of Two Cities. One of my prized possessions is a 21 volume set of the Oxford Illustrated Dickens. I have toured his house on Doughty Street, London and the Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey. I really enjoyed reading this post in honor of his birthday!

    1. I was in 9th grade the first time I read A Tale of Two Cities. It was my first exposure to Charles Dickens. I read Great Expectations while in high school as well. David Copperfield was read one summer, after I was married and had children - leisurely and just for fun. Maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much! My favorite movie version of a Dickens' book is the 2002 adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby, starring Christopher Plummer, but I always wished I could see it done on stage by the RSC in Stratford! Smike is such an amazing character.