In this post I will be focusing on “The National Gallery” by Joe Forrester.
The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square, Central London. It was founded in 1824 and has over 2300 paintings on show ranging from the mid-thirteenth century to 1900. It’s also among the most visited art museums in the world after the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Musée Du Louvre.
I’ve often wondered what kind of stories or characters Charles Dickens could have made involving this building as was built towards the end of his life. However, it will forever be a mystery as Dickens never wrote about specifics thought he did write about London. Anyone who’s been exposed to Dickens’ work will know that London plays quite a big consistent part in his novels. He’s recorded as referring to the city has his “magic lantern” (similar to a Victorian image projector used for entertainment). In a letter to John Forster, written in 1846, he wrote “a day in London sets me up and starts me” but outside the city “the toil and labour of writing, day after day, without the magic lantern is immense!”
In the famous Oliver Twist, adapted many times on stage and screen, the reader sees an orphan boy Oliver finds a friend in the Artful Dodger who takes him to Fagin. Before long, Oliver is picking pockets on the streets of London.
In my personal favourite, Great Expectations, Pip goes to London to improve his social standing by learning how to be a gentleman.
There’s an abundance of links to Dickens in England’s capital, sadly none you can visit in the form they existed to Dickens. However, you can visit his London home which is now a museum in Holborn.