There is a long tradition of enthusiastic interest in the topography of Dickens’ writings, extending from T. E. Pemberton’s Dickens’s London (1876) to a flurry of guidebooks published in the centenary year of 1970 and including Michael and Mollie Hardwick’s useful if sometimes inaccurate Dickens’s England, Geoffrey Fletcher’s The London Dickens Knew, and an excellent alphabetical guide to Dickens’ London produced by London Transport. It is not difficult to accuse such undertakings of sentimentality, irrelevance, or downright muddleheadedness; and it is true that to speak of visiting Little Nell’s church or photographing Joe Gargery’s cottage may betoken a confusion concerning the relationship of literature to actuality and a grossly over-simplified view of the creative process. At the same time, however, even at their most unfashionably hearty or peripheral — how characteristic of their periods are the very titles of William R. Hughes’ A Week’s Tramp in Dickens-Land (1891), and B. W. Matz’s Dickensian Inns and Taverns (1922)! — they pay tribute in their own way to Dickens’ compelling powers of description and to the intensity of the reader’s response to his rendering of a physical world that is sometimes real, sometimes imagined, and often somewhere between the two.
KeywordsNumerous Reference Public Reading Family Holiday Seaside Resort Family Fortune
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