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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
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Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 4 Sep 2016 19:25:03 -0700
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Friends of the Dickens Forum,

     Ruth Richardson <anatomyruth@gmail,com>  first directed us to 
Dickens's residence
near the workhouse of  *Oliver Twist*, and now has more to say following 
Allen's recent post:                                         (pjm)
> Further to Michael Allen's splendidly detailed letter - I am absolutely
> delighted that even more material seems to be emerging about the importance
> of number 10 Norfolk Street for the Dickens family. In my Dickens & the
> Workhouse, I hypothesised that because the Dickens brothers William & John
> were raised in Marylebone, they may have known Mr Dodd from their
> schooldays, as they seem to have been close contemporaries in age. Mr Dodd
> seems to have been very forbearing having John Dickens+family back to live
> in the house on a second occasion (and now it appears, possibly a third)
> even though he was still owed money. That William Dickens may have lived
> there beforehand is very interesting indeed. I await the new evidence with
> anticipation!
> 10 Norfolk Street (now 22 Cleveland Street) is one of only 4 original
> Georgian houses still standing in the street, and is full of its own period
> features, which can easily be confirmed because it is also the only house
> with a complete inventory of its fixtures and fittings. Very sadly the
> houses opposite were demolished early in the 1920s to make room for an
> expanded east wing for the Middlesex Hospital, which has only recently
> itself been demolished, and replaced with some of the ugliest architecture
> in London. A zebra crossing has also been installed right in front of the
> blue plaque, so when you stand across the road to try to get a good photo,
> there is a bright yellow belisha beacon flashing at you! BUT the blue plaque
> is a joy to see on this modest little house, and the workhouse is still
> standing on the next block north. I understand there are currently new
> moves afoot to 'redevelop' the workhouse site, so Dickensians should be
> poised to help fight again if the plans are as vile as I fear they may be.
> Architecture at the moment is really atrocious in London. There are cranes
> everywhere, and ugly buildings rise like funghi overnight. So much of
> London is being wiped out, it feels as though we are living through a
> second blitz. I pray that the Workhouse will not fall victim to this
> onslaught. Local people are being squeezed out everywhere. It is a terrible
> and ugly process, the entire city feels very fragile, depopulated of its
> own folk. For my generation it is particularly poignant, as we can remember
> the bombsites and the blitz spirit of unity and chirpy London good humour -
> we had a very unified nation in the 30-40 years after WW2. Now that is no
> longer so. Sometimes it is almost a pleasurable shock to hear a London
> voice. The destruction of the culture of the place is very painful to
> witness.
> The workhouse 'developers' plan an exhibition of their intentions on
> September 7th, or so I hear, so if you are in the vicinity that day, please
> go and see, and comment on what is proposed.
> As for 10 Norfolk Street, it was also where the original of Signor
> Billsmethi had his dancing school. See my paper in the Dickens Quarterly
> 32(4) Dec 2015, titled "The Subterranean Topography of Oliver Twist". I
> certainly think that Dickens got ideas/plots/inspiration for some of the
> Sketches, and very likely for Oliver Twist, from the street.
> Kindest regards - Ruth Richardson
> On Sat, Sep 3, 2016 at 8:01 PM, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> 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.