9 Sites on the River Thames That Tell the Story of Charles Dickens | Heritage Calling

Portrait of Dickens (detail) in 1843 when he was 21, painted by Margaret Gillies. Public Domain.

Portrait of Dickens (detail) in 1843 when he was 21, painted by Margaret Gillies. Public Domain.

2020 sees the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens, considered by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era; author of books such as Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend. Many of his novels – and his journalism – were shaped by a time of hardship in his childhood and by firsthand knowledge of the cruel…

Source: 9 Sites on the River Thames That Tell the Story of Charles Dickens | Heritage Calling

The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News – Mimi Matthews

Source: The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News – Mimi Matthews

Extreme fashions have always incited a fair amount of criticism and ridicule. During the 1870s and 1880s, this criticism was primarily reserved for the bustle.  Bustles were routinely satirized in magazines like Punch and featured as the subject of countless humorous—and not so humorous—newspaper articles.  Below are just a few of the many interesting bustle stories from the 19th century news, from an exploding bustle during a reading by author Charles Dickens to a bulk of bustles cast into the sea.


On an evening in September of 1888, famed Victorian author Charles Dickens was giving a reading at the First Congregational Church in the city of San Francisco.  Multiple British newspapers report the story of a fashionable…

Source: The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News – Mimi Matthews

Authentic Victorian Christmas Pudding | Mimi Matthews

“In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843.

Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball, etching by John Leech from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843.

A 19th century Christmas feast would not be complete without a Christmas pudding. Comprised of dried fruit, suet, egg, flour, and other basic ingredients, it was a popular holiday dish in both the Regency and Victorian eras.  Naturally, there are many historical recipes available for such an old favorite, but when looking for the simplest, and the best, you need search no further than…

Source: Authentic Victorian Christmas Pudding | Mimi Matthews

The legacy of the Blitz

Death and destruction from the Blitz during WWII is one thing but my heart weeps again at the horrors built in the post-war period, and torn down, only to be replaced with further monstrous edifices. No affordable housing, of course.

The Great Wen

I wrote a piece for the Guardian about the way modern London is still shaped by the bomb damage of the Blitz. This was a subject I immersed myself for several weeks and the first draft of my article is very different to the version that was published. I thought it might be interesting to reproduce the original article on The Great Wen. 


When travel writer HV Morton surveyed London in 1951’s In Search of London, it was still scarred by war. The Blitz had started on 7 September 1940 and more than a decade later, London was a “city of jagged ruins, of hob grates perched in the sunlight in shattered walls, of cellars draped with willow-herb and Canadian fleabane.” As Morton wandered sadly round Cripplegate – an area now covered by the Barbican – he looked “across an area of devastation so final and complete that the…

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The Real Artful Dodger?

History forever fails to provide a satisfactory voice for the suppressed. Records and documents are formal and impersonal, as if the individual being written about was not an individual, or human, at all. This is exhibited through young convicts of the 19th century. My research led to John Camplin of Tottenham, a fourteen-year-old boy sentenced to transportation for life in 1818 over the robbery of a dwelling-house. The label of ‘convict’ appears to coldly define him within history, as if life outside of crime and punishment ceased to exist as society decided he did not deserve one. But what about his story?

John Camplin’s silence is broken through Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, which offers a literary insight into the lives of real lower class delinquents during the 1800s. The novel conveys a dramatic yet detailed account of child criminality rather than a strictly factual one. The most memorable character, Jack Dawkins, otherwise known as the ‘Artful Dodger’ for his experience in the trade of pickpocketing, is of a similar age and lifestyle to the juvenile. He possesses a larger than life nature with the ‘gift of the gab’, and communicates through a language of confidence and buoyancy, forever voicing his opinion. The comparison of the two youths…

Continue reading: The Real Artful Dodger?

Dando: the celebrated gormandizing oyster eater

A true and delightful tale from All Things Georgian.

All Things Georgian


Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

To Gormandize – to eat (food) voraciously and greedily.

Edward Dando (not John Dando as he seems to be everywhere else recorded), born in Southwark on the 11th February 1803 to John and Frances Dando, grew up to be a ‘celebrated gormandizer.’

Edward Dando

Click to enlarge

He was also known by the appellation of the ‘celebrated oyster eater.’  For Dando, although not a thief (by his own reckoning) did not see why he should not have plenty of everything, even though he had no money to pay for it, when his betters relied constantly on credit to fund their lifestyles.  He was determined to live as they did.

Trained as a hatter, Edward Dando, when in his early twenties, embarked on his career as an oyster eater, devouring up to thirty dozen large oysters in a sitting, with bread and butter, washed down with quantities…

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