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The All-Important Prop
45 Print image of Charles Dickens for a reading tour in 1858, E200.144
© Charles Dickens Museum
The dramatic effects that Dickens could create during his public readings were enhanced by the gas lighting and stage set that accompanied him wherever he performed. He also made use of simple props like this ivory paper knife, ordinarily used for opening envelopes. Dickens sometimes holds studio props in his photographs, but he took this knife with him for his sitting to publicise his public readings (shown above).
Ivory paper knife owned by Dickens, c. 1850.
DH130 © Charles Dickens Museum