Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is one of what I regularly refer to as the 'Big Three' where all things literary are concerned in England, taking in to consideration a prolific output, and also the effect he has had on the English language, whilst solidifying a firm presence in the public consciousness. The other two are William Shakespeare (obviously) and Samuel Johnson, compiler of the first definitive English dictionary, who also bestowed us with the words 'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life ...' which I either hear or read about on an almost daily basis.
Anyway, back to Charles Dickens. He is a well known London personality and the Victorian era in which he predominantly lived oozes from the pages of his books, as well as highlighting many of the social hardships that people faced at the time. You can go on Dickens themed walks and visit the places that featured in his novels, or where he worked, or indeed lived. Aside from such places, there are also streets, cafes, pubs and buildings that pay homage to either the man himself, his books or the fictional characters he created. Below is a selection of them I have spotted (not including the Charles Dickens Museum on Doughty Street). If you know of any others (and I'm sure there are), feel free to let me know.
Micawber Street in Hackney - The character of Wilkins Micawber from 'David Copperfield' is generally thought to be based upon Charles Dickens' father John Dickens, who like Micawber, was incarcerated in a debtors' prison.
Manette Street in Soho - Dr Alexandre Manette features in 'A Tale of Two Cities', but if you've ever visited Foyles Bookshop, it's right on the corner of Manette Street and Charing Cross road, so the chances are you'd have passed down it.
Betsey Trotwood on Farringdon Road - Another character from Dickens' 1850 novel 'David Copperfield'. This little pub and tiny, tiny gig venue below (which I've played at many times) is named after David Copperfield's great-aunt.
Charles Dickens Coffee House in Covent Garden - We popped in here for a coffee on a walk a few weeks ago, but I'll forgive the proprietors for jumping on the Charles Dickens bandwagon, because it was in this building that Dickens actually had an office, producing the literary magazine 'All The Year Round' in which he first serialised a number of his novels.
The Dickens Inn at St Katharine Docks - Not one of the many pubs which claim Dickens' patronage as it didn't exist then and is a converted warehouse. It was however, opened by his grandson, Cedric Charles Dickens in 1976.
Pickwick House on Ebenezer Street - A double whammy, a veritable Dickens mash up of two novels; 'The Pickwick Papers' and 'A Christmas Carol'. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (or The Pickwick Papers) was Dickens first novel, but quite contentious. He was still writing under his pseudonym Boz, and the book wasn't his idea, but he developed it and made it his own. Originally conceived as illustrations with a bit of explanatory text, Robert Seymour, the originator and illustrator committed suicide after two installments.
Ebenezer Scrooge from 'A Christmas Carol' (1843) has seeped in to the English language as a way of describing someone who is miserly. You'd call them a 'Scrooge' not an 'Ebenezer', just in case you didn't know.
Little Dorritt cafe in Borough - Little Dorritt was another of Dickens' serialised novels (1855-1857) and was published in 19 monthly installments, with a couple of illustrations in each by Phiz (Halbot Knight Browne) who took over from the deceased Robert Seymour for The Pickwick Papers and became a long term collaborator with Dickens.
Pumblechooks Cafe, London E1 - I think these guys took inspiration from the nearby Dickens Inn, as the same guy who owns Pumblechooks also used to run a bar called Chuzzlewits. He may still do, but I couldn't find it. Mr Pumblechook features in 'Great Expectations' and is Joe Gargery's uncle.
And here is Charles Dickens himself, wonderfully rendered on to a door in Wilkes Street (Spitalfields) by the street artist Paul DON Smith.
So, again, if you know of any other Charles Dickens related cafes, streets, pubs or whatever in London that utilise his novels, characters or the author's own name, let me know.
I'm not sure what the official number is that constitutes a 'group', but if it's one, then this weekend I had three groups for my guided tours around London.
Saturday morning kicked off with Chris and Sasha who are over from Australia and joined me for the walk from Trafalgar Square to St Paul's. Covent Garden and Soho are often just referred to as 'Theatre Land' due to the density of theatres in the area. Just behind them on this photo is the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which I think is officially the oldest (still used) theatre site in London. I say 'site' because although it opened in 1663, they're now on their fourth building. The most recent incarnation opened in 1812.
We also managed to get a peak of Temple Church along the way, the 12th century church, built by the Templar Knights that nestles between Fleet Street and the Thames.
In the afternoon, Veronica, Sam and Chris came along for the afternoon walk that starts at St Paul's cathedral. They were also joined by stalwart Keith from Canada, a veritable Bowl Of Chalk veteran, returning for his third walk with me. Here they are down in Borough, close to Cross Bones Graveyard, the unconsecrated ground where the Bishop of Winchester's Geese, otherwise known as prostitutes, were unceremoniously dumped, until it was covered over in 1853. Although 'The Friends of Cross Bones Graveyard' are campaigning to turn the land in to a memorial garden, the land is owned by TFL. Here they are standing in front of a rather large London Underground sign.
London Underground is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The first line to open was the Metropolitan Railway and the inaugural journey on the 9th January 1863 took passengers between Paddington and Farringdon, just over 4 miles. Today, 3 million passengers are ferried around 253 miles of track in London every day.
Sunday was the mighty group of ... one; Erin from Australia, who although an individual in her own right (quite literally on that particular walk) also happens to be the sister of Robb, instigator of the coveted 'Best Moustache' award. Here she is on Hackney Road, standing in front of a piece by Paul Don Smith, who when not stenciling guys in bowler hats with a tap on their head, paints pretty natty portraits all over east London.
Youngest - Sam
Most Canadian (2nd week in a row) - Keith
Best Moustache - No winners
Most Australian - Erin, Sasha & Chris
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.