Skip to content

A Visit to the Charles Dickens Museum

On the Author's Birthday
A Visit to the Charles Dickens Museum

Nestled in a quiet Georgian street, stands a house of talking ravens and Christmas ghosts, books and beetle traps, snuff, ink, poster beds, feasting, merriment and music.
A Visit to the Charles Dickens Museum

The entrance to the Charles Dickens Museum, next door to number 48

Behind its doors, enter a dining room in bright gold, white and powder blue, and a morning room where portraits of the inhabitants look soberly down from the walls. Together, they stand at the entrance to number 48 Doughty Street, formerly the home of the influential writer and playwright, Charles Dickens.

'And though home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit answered to, in strongest conjuration.'

Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit

The museum at number 48 Doughty Street is an immersive exploration of Dickens and his domestic, as well as public, life. Designed to illustrate how the writer would have spent his more private moments, the rooms are richly furnished with personal possessions, pictures, and manuscripts. Together they paint a portrait of a larger-than-life character, a vivacious host and public entertainer with a complex personal story.

Rooms are dedicated to his public life as well as to Dickens’ famous texts: the writer published several of his books whilst living on Doughty Street, including Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist.

The dining room

'Fill your glass again, with a merry face and contented heart.'

Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz

Dickens’ proclivity for entertainment and his love of friendship and hosting begins in the basement, where visitors are introduced to the mechanics of a Victorian middle-class household. Discover the copper where the Christmas pudding was cooked, Dickens’ well-stocked wine cellar, as well as his wife’s published cookery book: What shall we have for dinner?

Continue your visit in the sitting room, the social centre of the house, where the Dickens welcomed their friends and social circle. Upstairs, you will find Dickens' study, in which he wrote some of his most celebrated texts.

Dickens loved to entertain: the second floor presents him as a performer who regularly regaled his friends and readers, and would act out his own characters in private whilst writing his books.

The drawing room

Did you know?

The Dickens Museum includes a wealth of quirky and idiosyncratic facts about the writer: Dickens' favourite colour was scarlet, he and his wife shared a love of cheese, and he once owned a beloved talking Raven called Grip.

'She was sure that in my every purpose I should gain a firmer and a higher tendency, through the grief I had undergone.'

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

While the basement, ground floor and study are dedicated to the social and public aspect of Dickens, the bedrooms and nursery depict a more somber side of the writer’s life. These floors are dedicated to his personal losses and his difficult childhood, which was marred by his father’s spell in a debtors' prison.

Dickens is portrayed as a figure not without controversy, in particular with regard to his relationship with his wife, though the affection in which the public held him during his lifetime in is made clear by their reactions to his death. A small child, asked about the writer’s end, allegedly enquired whether this would also cause the death of Father Christmas.

The bedroom of Charles and Catherine Dickens

‘No one is useless in this world . . . who lightens the burden of it for any one else.’

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

You will end your visit uplifted. The small servant’s room at the top of the house is dedicated to an exploration of his social welfare commitments and is additionally decorated with quotes from some of his most famous works.

At last, having wandered the hallways and rooms of the writer's home, make sure to note down of your favourite Dickens novels, encountered during your tour. When you leave behind the world of Nicholas Nickleby and David Copperfield, Grip the raven and copper cooked Christmas puddings, you might find some of them at our Mayfair bookshop, which houses a range of rare texts by Charles Dickens.

Antiquarian Dickens: a rare book selection

Let’s take a moment to explore our own selection of iconic Dickens texts, chosen to mark the passing of the writer’s 212th birthday! Works on our shelves include David Copperfield, Dickens own favourite amongst his works, A Tale of Two Cities, a story of conflicting principles during the French Revolution, and Nicholas Nickleby, as well as many more.

Charles DICKENS. The Personal History of David Copperfield. London, 1850. £8,750.00

A first edition in book form in a variant binding, of one of Dickens most autobiographical works. It was also the text which Dickens himself liked the most, and in 1869 he even compared it to 'a favourite child'.

Charles DICKENS. A Tale of Two Cities. London, 1859. £3,750.00

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...' A Tale of Two Cities in its first issue. Pitting aristocratic against democratic values, Dickens crafts a story of love, violence, fatherhood and politics, set during the turmoil of the French revolution.

Charles DICKENS. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. London, 1839. £2,200.00

The first edition, first issue in book form of Nicholas Nickleby, written by Dickens at number 48 Doughty Street. Published in 1839, Nicholas Nickleby tells the story of a boy whose life is tragically upturned by the death of his father.

Charles DICKENS. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. London, 1865. £950.00

First edition, handsomely bound in 20th century half navy-blue calf. Although it received mixed reviews at the time of publication, Our Mutual Friend now holds an esteemed place amongst his other works.

Charles DICKENS. Memoires of Joseph Grimaldi. London, 1838. £2,200.00

First issue, from the library of Eric Quayle. Dickens’ account of the life of Joseph Grimaldi, a renowned regency actor known for his portrayal of the clown in the Harlequinade and for his use of white face paint, a practice which remains a standard feature of clowns today.

Charles DICKENS. Little Dorrit. London, 1857. £375

‘[I]t seemed to be a pale transparent face, quick in expression, though not beautiful in feature, its soft hazel eyes excepted.’ The first edition in book form of Little Dorrit after the usual parts issue, bound in contemporary half green calf over marbled paper boards.

Explore all Charles Dickens rare books on our shelves now.
Previous article London Fashion Week Celebrates Four Decades of Timeless Style
Next article Finding the Value of Old Books

Leave a comment

* Required fields

Enjoy reading our blog?

Sign up for our newsletter and stay in the know!

About Us

About Us

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in London, specialising in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper, with particular expertise in fine illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th century, travel & voyages, natural history, modern firsts, rare children’s books, guidebooks, Hebraica & Judaica, Eastern European, and Islamica

Shop online and enjoy free international shipping now.


read more

Your cart is empty

Continue shopping