Faithful Companions: Charles Dickens & his Pets

Faithful Companions: Charles Dickens & his Pets

Coming 15th May 2024

Dogs, ravens, goldfinches, and cats all could be found in the homes of Charles Dickens. For Dickens, pets were full of mischief and intrigue. His good friend John Forster wrote that Dickens’s interest in animals was ‘inexhaustible’ and this passion fuelled the writer’s imagination. His letters to friends and family share the antics of his beloved animals such as Grip the raven and Timber the dog, and his novels tell the tales of unforgettable pets, like Bull’s-eye from Oliver Twist.

Dickens wasn’t alone in this interest. The Victorian period saw an explosion of pets alongside the working animals, such as horses, that made up everyday life. London was a city full of animals, with cattle driven through the streets to Smithfield market, performing dogs to entertain, and horses that pulled the carts and omnibuses. A chronicler of society, Dickens captured this change in his stories and his journals.

Charles Dickens, pictured with his favourite dog, a mastiff called 'Turk.' 

This family friendly exhibition will for the first time explore the stories of Dickens’s own pets and some famous animals from his novels through precious objects, such as his hand-written letters, family photo albums and artworks. Hear the stories of the Dickens family pets such as the Dick the canary who hopped about the breakfast table or Bob the cat who used to extinguish Dickens’s reading light to get more attention. Feel inspired by animal stories? Little storytellers can create their own fantastic fables in our animal inspired story space.

Faithful Companions: Charles Dickens & his Pets will be included in your normal admission ticket. The exhibition opens 15th May 2024 and runs until 12th January 2025. 

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