Charles Dickens Photos.com
David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page website offers the most accessible of non-specialist introductions – to the novels, the plots, the characters, the locations, to events and to a range of biographiocal sources.
It is run from the Charles Dickens Museum, in Doughty St., Central London, one of Dickens's numerous homes, already the wealthiest archive of artefacts, scholarship and images, and about to undergo extensive renovations in this, the bicentenary year.
The Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs, Kent, makes a crowning centrepiece when visiting one of England's loveliest and most intimate of seaside towns.
Restoration House, Rochester, Kent, is one of the most atmospheric private museums in the country – the home of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations – with magnificent furniture, Restoration paintings, fine pianos, porcelain and lovely Tudor gardens. It is given a whole chapter in my Rochester book. Check the limited opening times in advance.
The Rochester Guildhall Museum, lying conveniently on the High St. and offering Free Entrance, is in part housed in one of the finest 17th C. buildings in Kent. See the magnificent Council Chamber and Stairway, displays of numerous Dickens artefacts, and visit the Hulks Experience. The Museum is well covered too in my Rochester book.)
So also is Dickens's home at Gad's Hill Place, that is about to be converted soon from a girls school into a magnificent new museum.
Amongst a host of Dickens performances and celebrations during the bicentenary, the various annual Costume Parades in Rochester and Broadstairs figure prominently. Each town comes alive with the spirit of the Victorian age.
Fresh biographies of Dickens appear so frequently that I leave it to those listed above to try and catalogue them all!
Essential reading however is The Life of Charles Dickens by his lifetime friend and adviser John Forster, the starting point from which all other biographers have worked.
Augment this with The Letters of Charles Dickens (in 3 volumes), a fascinating insight,
along with the Memoirs of his daughter Mamie.
Amongst recent biographies, Claire Tomalin discusses Dickens's relationship with Nellie Ternan in The Invisible Woman, and introduces new scholarship through her recent, and highly successful biography Charles Dickens, A Life.
Crammed, likewise and most readibly, with a wealth of biographical detail and discernment is Peter Ackroyd's comprehensive masterpiece Dickens (that comes both abridged – in 600 pages – and in an unabridged version of some 1200 pages).
I hope I may be forgiven for mentioning again the lavishly illustrated hardback Charles Dickens At Home: "an invaluable resource to anyone who has an interest in the settings of Dickens' work, Hilary Macaskill weaves a narrative which places this great writer in his domestic context, gloriously illustrated with archive material and original photography."