The Bodleian Summer exhibition opens to the public this Saturday, 2 June. Celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Dickens, the exhibition illustrates the relationship between the fictional worlds Charles Dickens created in his novels and the historical reality in which he lived.
Drawing on the Bodleian’s unparalleled collection of printed ephemera, the Dickens and his World exhibition depicts in a unique way the life and times in which the novels and stories of this great writer were set.
On display will be playbills, advertisements, murder sheets, maps, panoramas, sheet music, playing cards and prints which will aim to recreate Dickens’ world and take the visitors on a journey back in his time. These items will be accompanied by quotations from Dickens’ novels, thus revealing how the historical reality of the Victorian times is mirrored in his writings.
There will be sections on Victorian London and its amusements; the coming of the railways; domestic entertainment; and school life for children. The exhibition will also look at the many stage adaptations that were often performed before the novels had completed their serialization and the plays Dickens produced and acted in, sometimes privately.
The exhibition makes the vibrant world of Dickens and his characters come alive by reproducing key extracts from the novels; these sit alongside a selection of the original book covers as they appeared weekly and monthly in the bookshops, their illustrations and all the paraphernalia of nineteenth-century advertising.