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Dickens at 200: 1812–2012

An exhibition in Special Collections

curated by
Jaime Margalotti


According to John R. Greenfield, author of the Dictionary of British Literary Characters, Charles Dickens created nearly one–thousand named characters during his career. Through vivid description and dialogue, characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Miss Havisham, and David Copperfield have become icons in their own right. Even characters’ names are evocative of their behavior. As Dickens’s books were often read aloud, such auditory clues would not be missed.

Kyd.(Joseph Clayton Clarke).

The Characters of Charles Dickens Pourtrayed [sic] in a Series of Original Water Colour Sketches. London; New York: R. Tuck & Sons, [1889].

Mr. Pickwick from The Pickwick Papers; The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist; and Mr. Micawber from David Copperfield.

Joseph Clayton Clarke (1856–1937), known as Kyd, worked as a freelance artist in England and specialized in Dickens character portraits. His illustrations appeared in magazines, cigarette cards, and postcards. He also sold individual watercolors of Dickens characters through the London book trade.

Felix Octavius Carr Darley.

Character Sketches from Dickens. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1892.

Bill Sikes, Oliver, and Nancy from Oliver Twist; Barnaby Rudge from Barnaby Rudge; Little Nell and Her Grandfather from The Old Curiosity Shop; and Joe and Pip from Great Expectations.

The popular and prolific American illustrator F.O.C. Darley (1822–1888) is best known for his illustrations of the works of American authors, such as Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper. Darley’s primary style of illustration involved black and white line engraving, such as is displayed here. Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Darley settled in Claymont, Delaware, in 1859. Darley’s Dickens illustrations were the last he produced before he died, leaving the project only partially completed.

The Strand Magazine.

“A Tribute to Genius, 1812–1912,” testimonial stamp devised by the Charles Dickens Centenary Testimonial Committee. Includes full sheet of stamps, original housing for stamps, and artwork from the Strand Magazine, circa 1911. William A. Oliver, Jr. collection.

Engraved and printed by Raphael Tuck & Sons, the Strand Magazine issued these cinderella labels at the cost of 1d in England and 2c in the United States. These purely commemorative items are often mailed along with regular stamps, but are not considered valid postage. The housing for the stamps specifically encourages the owner to affix each as a “Centenary Book Plate in every volume you possess of the works of Charles Dickens for the purpose of raising a fund for the benefit of his descendents, and, should the proceeds permit, of in other ways commemorating his memory.” The Centenary Testimonial Committee included such prominent individuals as Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, and Theodore Roosevelt.

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