Date of publication: December 2011
Few novelists have written so intimately about a city in the way that Charles Dickens wrote about London. A near-photographic memory made his contact with the city indelible from a very young age and it remained his constant focus. Virginia Woolf maintained that, ‘we remodel our psychological geography when we read Dickens,’ as he produces ‘characters who exist not in detail, not accurately or exactly, but abundantly in a cluster of wild yet extraordinarily revealing remarks.’
But the ‘character’ he was drawn back to throughout his novels was London itself, all aspects of the capital from the coaching inns of his early years to the taverns and watermen of the Thames; these were the constant cityscapes of his life and work.
Based on five walks in central London, Peter Clark illuminates the settings of Dickens’s London, his life, his journalism and his fiction. He also explores ‘The First Suburbs’ (Camden Town, Chelsea, Greenwich, Hampstead, Highgate and Limehouse) as they feature in Dickens’s writing.
Peter Clark is a writer, translator and consultant. He worked for the British Council, has translated novels from Arabic and written on 19th-century Britain.