The Amazing Conjuring of Characters

Dickens’s conception of his huge range of characters was a popular subject for artists. The author – who was himself a fine amateur magician – is imagined here as a wizard, calling up characters from a fiery cauldron by means of an oversized quill pen.

The artist Kyd produced a large number of sketches of Dickens characters, which were published in magazines or sold as watercolour paintings. His imagining the author’s inspiration as magical is a testament to Dickens’s creative powers.


Object in focus: ‘Dickens the Great Magician’ by Kyd (Joseph Clayton Clarke)


Kyd (Joseph Clayton Clarke), Dickens the Great Magician. Watercolour, c.1880s.
DH844 © Charles Dickens Museum.
Purchased with support from the National Heritage Monument Trust, the Art Fund, Friends of the National Libraries and the Dickens Fellowship.

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