The Charles Dickens Museum occupies a historic house in the center of London where the great nineteenth century writer lived with his new wife and young family while working on several of his most famous novels at the end of the 1830s. The many rooms of this preserved Victorian home are full of authentic pieces of furniture and tableware that once belonged to the Dickens family; the museum also possesses thousands of rare books, manuscripts, letters, and personal items.
Money Saving Tip! Charles Dickens Museum is included on the London Pass and GoCity London Pass. If you are sightseeing in London, then you can save a lot of money with the pass.
History of the Charles Dickens Museum
The Charles Dickens Museum is located in an elegant Georgian-style terrace house at 48 Doughty Street in the Bloomsbury district of London. The legendary author Charles Dickens lived in this five-story home between the years 1837 and 1839 with his wife Catherine and their oldest son, Charlie. Though Dickens’ stay here didn’t last long, it was remarkably productive: during his time in this house he completed work on The Pickwick Papers and penned the novels Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist. After the Dickens family moved on, the home was a boarding house for approximately 85 years until the Dickens Fellowship purchased it in 1923, thus saving it from a proposed demolition. In 1925, the museum opened to the public; for a century now it has housed both the Fellowship’s offices and one of the world’s most important collections of Dickens-related papers and artifacts. Today, it’s the only surviving home of Charles Dickens in all of London.
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights
The permanent collection of the Charles Dickens Museum is said to contain over 100,000 items drawn from all aspects of the famed author’s life. As you move through the home, which has been carefully restored and preserved to appear just as it might have during the middle of the nineteenth century when Dickens and his family occupied it, you’ll encounter furnishings, papers, paintings, books, and a host of personal objects that once belonged to the author and his loved ones. Rooms of particular note here include the Drawing Room, Morning Room, and Study where Dickens actually wrote.
The museum stages temporary exhibitions throughout the year; by their very nature these exhibits are always different, but recent shows of note have been devoted to such topics as Dicken’s portrayal of “London fog” in his works and the nature of his close friendship with fellow writer Wilkie Collins.
In addition to standard admission, the Charles Dickens Museum also offers visitors their choice of several unique experiences; these include multiple kinds of themed guided tours, free educational talks, and occasional special events. Check out the attraction’s official website for the latest information.
More to See and Do at the Charles Dickens Museum
Whether you’re a longtime reader of Charles Dickens or a relative newcomer to the work of this famous writer, the Charles Dickens Museum is full of fascinating things to see and do. Keep reading for a few more things to keep in mind as you plan your visit.
*The Charles Dickens Museum is home to a well-curated gift store called the Curiosity Shop, which takes its name from Dickens’ 1841 novel entitled The Old Curiosity Shop. This charming shop sells a range of books, candles, prints, posters, cards, stationery, homeware, and assorted keepsake gifts and souvenirs. Many of the Curiosity Shop’s bestselling items are the handiwork of independent local businesses.
*The Pickwick Café is the Charles Dickens Museum’s in-house dining option. The small menu available here features quiche, soup, and scones; it’s a great spot to savor a pot of tea or cup of coffee while enjoying the pleasant atmosphere of the museum’s courtyard garden. The Pickwick Café has free Wi-Fi service for customers, too.
*Parking around the Charles Dickens Museum is limited, so your best bet is to take public transportation. Numerous buses serve the area, and the nearest tube station is Russell Square on the Piccadilly Line, which is only a five-minute walk from here. For more information, visit the “Plan Your Day” page on the Charles Dickens Museum’s official website.
*The Charles Dickens Museum is located in London’s fashionable Bloomsbury district, which means a number of other popular London tourist attractions are nearby. These include the British Museum, the Postal Museum, and the Foundling Museum, just to name a few.
*Families planning to visit the Charles Dickens Museum with small children should be advised that strollers are not permitted within the attraction; this is on account of how small some of the home’s rooms are in places. All strollers may be checked at the museum’s cloakroom upon arrival.
*The Charles Dickens Museum is spread out across the house’s five floors, meaning there are a significant number of stairs to navigate while visiting the attraction. Those guests requiring the assistance of an elevator during their visit should notify staff at the attraction’s front desk. The museum is accessible for guests requiring the assistance of a wheelchair; however, due to space considerations, certain types of larger, motorized wheelchairs may prove too big for the attraction.
Why the Charles Dickens Museum Should Be on Your Must-See List
Fans of Charles Dickens—or British literature in general—will not want to miss out on the chance to experience the Charles Dickens Museum for themselves, as it provides fascinating insights into both the working habits of an iconic nineteenth century novelist and the domestic life of a young Victorian-era family. Even if you’re not a particular fan of Dickens, this museum dedicated to his life, career, and memory makes for a worthwhile stop; you can enjoy its many charms in about an hour before or after you check out some of the area’s many other tourist attractions and historic places.