With a flurry of momentous events taking place in the UK this year, it’s easy for some of the smaller celebrations to fall through the cracks – even if they’re celebrating the bicentenary of one of the UK’s most acclaimed authors.
February 7 2012 will be the 200th birthday of one Charles John Huffam Dickens. And while Dickens has long since lost the ability to capture the peccadilloes of modern life – though we’d love to see his take on the 21st century – his writing is as acclaimed and pertinent today as it ever was.
So we’ve decided to make this instalment of our ‘101 places to go…’ a Dickens special. There are a number of attractions that celebrate the writer’s life and works listed below but, as ever, if you have your own recommendations then leave a comment and we’ll get it added to the main post.
Since we’re writing about the life of ‘England’s most popular author’ it seems only right to start at his first chapter! Charles Dickens was born into modest surroundings in Portsmouth in 1812. He lived at what is now the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum for the first three years of his life. As the name suggests, the house now stands as a tribute to the writer and its 19th century interior is now faithfully restored. You can explore three furnished rooms in the house: the parlour, the dining room and the bedroom where Charles was born.
To mark the bicentenary, the museum will be open earlier in the year (28 January 2012). On Sunday 5th and Tuesday 7th February 2012 there will be free admission. Both days will have a range of activities plus celebrations in the street including street performers, musicians, food, craft activities, readings. Find more info on the website.
It’s impossible to mention Charles Dickens without also mentioning his most notable character: the city of London. The capital played such a large in his tales that it’s almost impossible to imagine them being set anywhere else – though many adaptations have tried. We think there’s no better place to gain an appreciation and understanding of the man than at the Charles Dickens Museum in London. The attraction, located at 48 Doughty Street, is the only surviving home of the author in London and contains over 100,000 items including manuscripts, rare editions, personal items, paintings and more.
Those with Great Expectations (sorry!) to visit in peak season will be in for Hard Times(!), however, as the attraction is set to close on 9 April 2012 for expansion and renovation work. Obviously this is not ideal timing but it is open every day until then and aims to re-open in the winter to catch the tail-end of the Dickens bicentenary year. Find more info on the website.
Find self-catering accommodation that would definitely be out of place in a Dickens novel by searching our featured properties in London on cottages4you.