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Victorian novelist Charles Dickens achieved literary super-stardom in his own lifetime and remains widely popular 200 years after his birth. Although he never publicly discussed it, he never forgot the financial instability of his childhood which temporarily led to debtor’s prison for his father and a factory job for the 12–year–old Charles. Beginning as a young man, Dickens’s walked for miles in the city, developing an intimate familiarity with not only the kinds of people who lived there, but London itself. Dickens remained concerned for the poor and steadfastly advocated for changes in the social structure which would bring them access to sanitation, education, and respectable work. Individuals of all classes enjoyed Dickens’s tales, with communal readings, theatrical productions, and illustrations making them accessible to even the illiterate.

This exhibition was on display in the Special Collections Gallery from January 24-June 8, 2012.

Tags: Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870