Charles Dickens: Man of Science

Charles Dickens Museum

24 May – 11 November 2018

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Discover a different side to the famous novelist with this investigation into his interest in science and its power to change society for the better.

Charles Dickens' acting copy of Animal Magnetism

It has long been believed that Charles Dickens had little or no interest in science. This exhibition vigorously refutes this, drawing on his novels, journalism, and exchanges with friends to prove he was one of the most powerful science communicators of his age.

Placed at the centre of Victorian society, he counted amongst his friends and acquaintance leading scientists such as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Jane Marcet, Harriet Martineau, and Roderick Murchison, and his obituary of Mary Anning helped bring her to the public's attention as the woman who discovered the ichthyosaur and plesiosaurus.

Most interested where science could improve life for people, he helped found the world’s first children’s hospital, Great Ormond Street, and his characters' accurately described symptoms inspired doctors to research new illnesses. The affliction of the character Joe in The Pickwick Papers became known as Picwickian Syndrome.

Exhibits include first editions, journals, notes and letters, as well as personal science-related possessions such as telescopes, magic lanterns and his own copy of Linton’s Colossal Vestiges of the Older Nations.

Venue information

Opening times

Tue–Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays, 10am–5pm (last admission 4pm)

Closed Mondays, 25, 26 Dec and 1 Jan

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