Friends of the Dickens Forum,
Details of Dickens's residence at 10 Norfolk Street keep being
discovered and put in context.
Michael John Allen <michaeljohnallen@btinternet>, a master at clarifying
how and by whom
its history transpired, has kindly brought us up to date on this
interesting matter: (pjm)
> Dear Patrick,
> Following the messages from Herb Moscovitz and Dan Calinescu perhaps I can
> clarify the sequence in which information came to us about the Dickens
> family and Norfolk Street?
> John Forster, in his "Life of Charles Dickens" (1872), was the first
> biographer to point us to this short street on the eastern edge of
> Marylebone, information he must have had from Charles Dickens himself or
> from another member of the family. However, he failed to provide us with a
> number or give any other information about the property. But in 1911 a new
> edition of Forster's biography appeared, edited by Dickens scholar B.W.
> Matz; the value of this book lies in the addition of 500 portraits,
> facsimiles and other illustrations, collected, arranged and annotated by
> Matz. One of these illustrations is a photograph of 10 Norfolk Street and
> had the caption "where Dickens lived in 1814-16". So, it was in 1911 that
> the actual building was first identified. 12 years later another
> Dickensian, Walter Dexter, drew attention to the fact that the Dickenses had
> lived at Norfolk Street on a second occasion, in 1831, adding that it was
> probably at the same address as 1816. This information was not expanded
> upon until 1951 when Leslie Staples discovered Dickens' application for a
> reader's ticket at the British Museum (and therefore its library), which
> pinpointed the address as number 10. Dickens' application was made on the
> 8th February 1830, the day after his 18th birthday, when he first became
> eligible. Staples was the first to point out that the address was changed
> from 10 Norfolk Street to 22 Cleveland Street. This change was implemented
> in 1867. Staples emphasized the lodgings of the Dickens family were above a
> shop, which would have been surmised from Matz's 1911 photo; but he was the
> first to tell us that the shop was occupied by John Dodd, a grocer, who had
> been there in 1804 and was still there in 1830. Information about Dodd was
> expanded by W.J. Carlton in 1952. In my own book, *Charles Dickens'
> childhood* (1988) I tried to give more space and attention to this house.
> My own efforts were substantially superseded in 2012 by Ruth Richardson in
> "Dickens and the workhouse". Ruth's research uncovered much new information
> but most importantly pointed out, for the first time, that when the Dickens
> family were living at 10 Norfolk Street they were located just 100 yards
> from the local workhouse. Her book, together with the campaign to save the
> workhouse from demolition, drew attention to a home of Dickens that had not
> been given the recognition it deserved. The placing of the commemorative
> plaque, with help from Dan Calinescu, has raised this building to a
> prominence it rightly deserves.
> The point of all this is that the identification of the Dickens family's
> home in Norfolk Street is not a recent thing, but its proximity to the
> workhouse is. I might add the most recent research shows there is a
> possibility John Dickens' brother William may have lived at 10 Norfolk
> Street in 1817; and that firstly John Dickens and then the rest of his
> family may have lived there for a third time, in the first half of 1822 -
> the reasoning for this will appear in an article in the forthcoming December
> issue of "Dickens Quarterly".
> With best wishes to all
> Michael Allen.