Published: August 31, 2011
Charles Dickens (1812‱870) was Britain’s first true literary superstar. In his time, he attracted international adulation on an unprecedented scale and many of his books became instant classics. Today, his popularity continues unabated and his work remains not only widely read, but widely adapted to stage and screen.
To celebrate the bicentennial of the great writer’s birth in 1812, the Morgan Library & Museum will present “Dickens at 200,” running September 23⁆ebruary 12.
The Morgan’s Dickens collection is the largest in the United States and is one of the two greatest in the world, along with the holdings of Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The celebration exhibit will include manuscripts of his novels and stories, letters, books, photographs, original illustrations and caricatures.
It will focus primarily on Dickens’s novels and their relation to his various activities and collaborations †literary, artistic, theatrical and philanthropic †from The Pickwick Papers , 1836, his first book, to Our Mutual Friend , 1865, the last he completed. ( The Mystery of Edwin Drood remained incomplete at the time of Dickens’s death in 1870).
The Morgan’s collection of Dickens material notably includes the complete manuscript of Our Mutual Friend , the only manuscript of a Dickens novel in the United States, as well as the manuscripts of three of Dickens’s Christmas stories, including the iconic A Christmas Carol , 1843. The Morgan has the largest collection of the author’s letters (more than 1,500) in the United States, as well as more than 50 original illustrations of Dickens’s work, complete runs of his novels published in monthly installments, first editions of his books, portrait photographs, caricatures, playbills and ephemera.
One section of the exhibition explores the plot outlines and manuscript pages of Our Mutual Friend , a selection of which will be on view to allow visitors to follow Dickens’s creative process. Another section of the show will feature letters and other documents that reveal the social context and the personal and economic circumstances in which Dickens wrote, including his family life; his travels to the United States and Europe and his activity as a social reformer.
The Morgan Library & Museum is at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street. For information, 212-685-0008 or www.themorgan.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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