I seem to be writing blog posts at the moment about my favourite authors and feel Charles Dickens is surely one of them. Victorian London is a favourite time period of mine and Dickens really portrays this period really quite well. You can almost see the London fog and certainly smell the street urchins who live on the streets.
London in Victorian times was a cruel place unless you had money. It also was a place, where there was a labyrinth of streets going every which way. Dickens who was a keen walker, often walked about the London streets in the middle of the night. I guess he got a lot of his inspiration from what he saw there.
One of my favourite Dickens book is Hard Times, it brutally describes children working in textile mills and the accidents that befell them. You also get the feel of England’s industrial revolution, like some out of control train. It must of been wild times living at that moment, when so many things were changing. The world was in fact changing.
I must admit I also love Dickens characters as well, he paints an almost three dimensional person on the pages of his books. Sometimes they are a little larger than life and other times they fade into the Victorian wallpaper called society. They are never boring and I do love the names Dickens gave them as well. His novels are like a snapshot of society and life in his time.
One of my favourites is Amy Doritt from the novel Little Doritt. She has grown up in debter’s prison through no fault of her own, only her Father who lost money and brought the whole family to ruin and shame. This was a little autobiography for Dickens, because his own Father spent time in debter’s prison. So sad that Amy Doritt ended up working to help support her Father in prison, it seems so topzy turvy indeed a child supporting their Father financially when it should be the other way around. Unfortunately children worked in Victorian times and in a lot of unsafe ways and Dickens spoke out about children’s working conditions many times.
With Dickens you always feel like you truly walk London’s streets with the characters, so much so that when I went to London, you could almost see the ghost of Victorian London, living amongst a very modern city. There are echoes of the past at every turn you take, you start to feel as if you truly have traveled back in times in many places.
I found walking around London was an amazing experience and I simply let my feet guide me. I felt at times as if I was walking in the ghost footsteps of many others, not just Dickens. London feels such an old place, but in literature I have read, I feel like I know parts of it so very well. You could almost see Wilkie Collins Woman in White walk pass you on a London street. The East end Petticoat lane markets hark back to an earlier time, unfortunately most of the East end of London was lost in the Blitz, so not all of Victorian London survived. Imagination is however a magical thing. There are no more pea soup fogs, that London in Victorian times was famous for, alas her streets are rather grey and gloomy under rainy skies. Although to see her skylines under setting sun, you see a little of her Victorian character come through so very clearly indeed. London has spunk for sure, no wallflower here.
Along the Thames is where you find a lost London, you wonder if you lean over the rails maybe you will see a mudlarker trailing through the mud for hidden treasures. London does that to you, there appears so many London’s amongst the one you are in, history is right there for you to see and feel, almost like she is a lady of many faces.
Dickens opens up a world of his own making, and I as many love to lose ourselves within it’s many pages. He is still read and enjoyed today,by many new readers like myself,who want something with substance to read. As always, when I began this blog post I had a picture in mind, but that has grown to something quite different indeed. It simply is a reader, sharing with you one of my very favourite authors of all time. I guess what I am also saying is Dickens books quenched a thirst in me, they showed me what reading could be if I opened my mind to possibilities and old masters.