Home Arts &Culture Charles Dickens’s earliest surviving letter and handwritten fragment of Oliver Twist on...

Charles Dickens’s earliest surviving letter and handwritten fragment of Oliver Twist on show as museum goes online

A fragment of the original Oliver Twist manuscript and its author’s earliest surviving letter have been added to the Charles Dickens Museum’s brand new online collection.

The items are among more than 100,000 to be added to the database, which will allow visitors to inspect aspects of the writer’s home, life and work in close detail.

A number of his personal belongings including his writing desk, at which he penned such literary masterpieces as Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times and the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood, are in the collection.

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The online collection gives access to a number of objects that the museum is unable to display due to their fragility or a lack of space.

The Charles Dickens Museum on Doughty Street is the London home where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. It has been a museum since 1925 and its collection has been growing ever since. Cataloguing everything into an online collection has been in the works for a number of years.

Curator Louisa Price said: “Lockdown has made it all the more timely. We hope that a search of our new site will convey some of the enjoyment we feel when poking around the storeroom and riffling in boxes; whether it’s the shock of looking closely at a Dickens character figurine to discover it’s made with real hair or the thrill of turning the page of a book from Dickens’s own library and finding his own annotations.

“Historically, curators have been the gatekeepers of Museum collections, carefully managing what visitors and researchers could access. Increasingly, we are creating spaces where the public can be in control, search for themselves, make their own discoveries and find the stories that interest them.”

Visit the Charles Dickens Museum online collections at collections.dickensmuseum.com