With this year marking the 150th anniversary of Charles Dicken’s death, an exhibition is looking at the sort of childhood the average person could have expected when he was a child.
As he was an average child himself, he understood the deprivations of the time and was a strong campaigner for change.
The exhibition then looks at the sorts of books being published at the time which tried to highlight the plight of the poor to those rich enough to buy the books.
Unsurprisingly for a library, it’s mainly a collection of books, with a handful of objects, but while the books are interesting to look at, what makes the exhibition worth visiting is the message the books tried to convey.
A quantity of it was rather glamourised, goodly redemption and Christian charity, but many of the publications on show really do headline the pitiful state many people found themselves in.
It’s interesting to learn that A Christmas Carol was going to be a pamphlet entitled An Appeal to the People of England, on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child, but fortunately he realised that a best-selling novel would reach more people and do more good to convert minds.
There are a few of Dickens books in the exhibition, including an amazing series of miniature Christmas Carols, but it’s mainly the story told by the rest of the books, open at key passages that resonates.
There are four main themes in the exhibition and over 80 items on display exploring the issues experienced by children growing up in Victorian London.
The exhibition is open until 20th June 2020 and is free to visit.
To get in, go to the famous Senate House building and take the lift to the 4th floor, then at the library reception ask for a pass to the exhibition.
It’s open Mon-Sat, closed on Sunday.