Charles Dickens (1812-70): A Bicentenary Display
A plunge in David Copperfield world
Victoria and Albert Museum celebrates the bicentenary of the Charles Dickens birth exhibiting the original manuscript of his autobiographic masterpiece “David Copperfield” at the National Art Library, situated at the third floor of the building, from 15th November to 1st April.
The exhibition shows the first original printed copy dated 1859, and the previous drafting of the book with corrections and annotations of the author.
Before being bound in unique book, “David Copperfield” was published in 20 installments from May 1849 to November 1850, and Hablot Knight Browne created the illustrations.
He became the official Dickens illustrator, and between the two men there will create a strong work relationship – the writer examined and judged every drawing before they were printed.
Often H.K. Browne created his drawings while Dickens was writing his novels, so this close connection allowed them to establish a steady and honest collaboration.
Dickens had a meticulous management of his affairs, and the visitors can look at the personal register where the author noted the sales of his writings and the remunerations.
The influence of Dickens in the literary world was very deep, especially in the theatre.
Andrew Halliday was the author of the first theatrical adaptation – the play “Little Em’ly” – which approved from Dickens, it opened the Olympic Theatre season in 1869.
It is also exposed a singular copy of the novel; in 1914 before the beginning of the show, the audience of the His Majesty Theatre in London received a copy of the book in homage, given by the manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and illustrated by Frank Reynolds.
But one of the most important pieces is the edition published in 1872, the first after the writer death, in which 9 volumes out of 20 were illustrated by Frederick Banrnard, who became the new best illustrator of the Dickens novels.
In 1983 Charles Keeping published a comics version of David Copperfield, which was the first edition illustrated by only one cartoonist.
The exhibition ends with a recent comics edition published in 2007 by Marias Williams.
This small exhibition represents “David Copperfield” impact on different artistic sectors.
The visitors carry out a plunge in Nineteenth century – when London started industrializing, facing its new problems (drunkenness of exploited workers, slums, immigration, poverty and dirtiness), and the splendour of Victorian Age dominated every cultural field.