Charles Dickens’ first novel, The Pickwick Papers, is released

Although he was already a successful writer, it was the publication of The Pickwick Papers in 1836 that would turn Charles Dickens into the publishing legend we know today, and there is an exhibit on that first novel in its eponymous museum.

The novel was not published as a novel, but was serialized over 20 months, as was often the case at the time, and it was the serialization that made the novel so successful, people in front wait a month to get the next section of the story.

The novel, officially The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, but better known as The Pickwick Papers chronicles the exploits of an incompetent athletic club. Dickens was commissioned to write the text to accompany amusing drawings by illustrator Robert Seymour, and such was Dickens’ skill that today most people remember his words, not the drawings he wrote for. .

What was somewhat unexpected was how serialization inspired other people to start their own Pickwick clubs, the first known being started by a group of friends in Whitehall, who met in a pub local and kept records of their meetings and discussions. the minute bookas their archive was known, is now on display as part of the Charles Dickens Museum exhibition of the Pickwick Papers.

Many clubs have lived up to the eccentricities of their fictional inspiration with curious regulations and traditions. In 1979, Cedric Dickens, Charles’s great-grandson, founded his own Dickens Pickwick Club, with a dedicated club tie that everyone must wear, while the much older Pickwick Bicycle Club has its own club hat. club to wear. The annual toast to the “immortal memory of Charles Dickens” is a popular tradition at many clubs.

What the exhibit shows is partly about what Dickens wrote, but much more about the fascinating way his fans reacted with their own clubs. One of the earliest forerunners of modern cosplay fandom.

As well as the main exhibit, scattered around the house are a number of other objects, all related to the Pickwick Papers. If you wander around, you might be very surprised to learn that Robert William Buss, the artist responsible for one of Charles Dickens’ most famous images, was originally commissioned to illustrate the Pickwick Papers, but was turned down. in favor of Robert Seymour.

The exhibition, Picturing Pickwick: The Art of The Pickwick Papers is at the Charles Dickens Museum until September 11.

Adult: £12.50 | Reduced price: £10.50 | Child 6-16: £7.50 | Children under 6 years old: Free

It is recommended to book tickets in advance from here.

Irene B. Bowles