Acquisition of Major Private Collection of Rare and Original Dickens Material Announced

On what would have been Dickens's 208th birthday we are delighted to announce the acquisition of over 300 items from the most substantial private collection of Dickens material in the world. The items acquired by the Museum include 144 handwritten letters by Dickens (25 of which are unpublished!), personal items including writing implements and jewellery, original artwork by the illustrators of Dickens’s books, including George Cruikshank, John Leech, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), Joseph Clayton Clarke (Kyd) and Frank Reynolds, a range of unpublished manuscripts and letters written by others in Dickens’s circle and 25 books from Dickens’s own library.

The Museum’s acquisition, from a private collection in the USA, has been made possible by a generous grant of £1.22m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, together with substantial contributions from Art Fund, Friends of the National Libraries and the Dickens Fellowship, totalling £1.8m.

The material will provide rich new insights into the life and work of Charles Dickens (7 February 1812–9 June 1870), throwing new light on his personal and business relationships, and state of mind while writing his novels, as well as offering vivid insights into his character 150 years after his death.

The collection will be researched, catalogued and conserved before going on display over the next two years both online and in the rooms of Dickens’s London home.

This is a treasure trove – a true once-in-a-lifetime moment for the Museum. 150 years after the death of Dickens, it is wonderful to be able to bring such a rich and important collection to the Museum at his first family home. We are immensely grateful to all of the organisations that have supported us so generously, and to the collector for his original acuity and giving the Museum the opportunity of acquiring this collection. We are looking forward to sharing the items with our visitors, both online and in person in the rooms of Dickens’s home.- Cindy Sughrue, Director

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