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Love From London: Charles Dickens’s Magic Lantern

Date posted: 19.12.2012

"He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness."

Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol'

Film London has launched a new layer of the Love from London Online Movie Map, focusing on the locations from the life, literature and film & television adaptations of Charles Dickens. Walk in the footsteps of the 19th Century author and explore the places that influenced and provided a backdrop for some of the most memorable novels ever written.

From The Old Curiosity Shop in Holborn, to the inns and ancient buildings of Fleet Street where he began his early career as a reporter, Dickens wrote almost exclusively about the city he loved. Describing London as his "magic lantern", the prolific writer and insomniac would pound the streets at night in search of inspiration. The online Dickens map allows users to explore the city through Dickens's eyes.

In the year Dickens began to write 'Great Expectations', Dickens wrote 'Night Walks', an essay documenting his moonlit rambles. "The wild moon and clouds were as restless as an evil conscience in a tumbled bed," he wrote "and the very shadow of the immensity of London seemed to lie oppressively upon the river." It was during these expeditions that Dickens would plan his storylines and study the city which was arguably the most important of character through all of his work.

 "Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city... Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds."

Charles Dickens's 'Bleak House'

From the opening pages of 'Bleak House' to the opening scenes in 'Our Mutual Friend', the River Thames is the artery that runs through the beating heart of London. Traversing city and plot and providing an epic setting for the author, The Thames is a timeless setting for Dickens's tales of love and hardship.

Meanwhile on the banks of the river, the buildings and architecture of Victorian London make up the fabric of one of the most spectacular cities in the world. From Marshalsea Prison and Warren's Blacking Factory to St Paul's Cathedral and Lincolns Inn, these were the places which were to have profound influence on the author's life and fiction.

Much of Dickens's London still exists, and many of the locations been used in numerous adaptations, in both film and television. His novels have been adapted by some of the world's greatest film-makers including David Lean (not to mention It's a Wonderful Life!) and most recently Mike Newell's with Great Expectations. Some of these locations are also plotted in the map.

Dickens's London and his cinematic vision of the capital, comes alive in Love from London's Dickens Map.