The Originals


A short walk in another direction from The British Museum (last time it was the British Library) is a delightful little house well worth exploring,The Dickens Museum. It is not, as I was expecting, a stone edifice of some kind. The man actually lived and worked here. You can even peek into his laundry room, which seems a bit like prying to me, and his wine cellar, of which you are not granted even a taste. But it is upstairs where you will find traces of the man himself. There is a charming little statue of the Little Midshipman, a couple of vintage clocks, and this bookshelf, filled with issue upon issue of the journals containing the chapters of his books published in serial form. Years later, when my son was going through the books that were given to his late wife by a collector relative, we discovered that some volumes claiming to be "books" were instead collections of these journals in which the individual chapters had been published. We took the entire lot to an antique book dealer in Chicago, and he received a tidy - not enormous, but tidy - amount for them. It was exciting for me to recognize this format from the issues I had seen in the bookshelf.

That's Jackie the Crow, by the way. My traveling companion. I lost him not much later, somewhere around the Museum. He was there one minute and then he was gone. I like to think he joined a murder in Russell Square, but then I like to think a lot of things.