The Charles Dickens collection

Portsmouth Museums has a significant collection of items relating to Charles Dickens.

Some of the earliest items that came into our collection included signed documents, a sculpture of his father and a large portrait of the author by local artist Henry Bryant, which is now on permanent display at the Dickens Birthplace.

Following Dickens’ death in 1870, some of his personal effects were donated to Portsmouth Museums by his family. These included hand-written letters, original illustrations, books, manuscripts and a large number of family photographs. Perhaps the most significant item from this donation was the chaise longue sofa on which he died on 9th June 1870 at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent.

Throughout the years people have donated Dickens-related items to the collection, and it now comprises over 1000 works. These include:

  • Paintings by Clarkson Stanfield and JC Clarke (aka Kyd)
  • Engravings and prints by artists such as George Cruikshank, Frederick Barnard and Hablot Knight Browne who were all significant illustrators of Dickens novels
  • Sculpture
  • Souvenir pieces such as stamps and illustrated cigarette cards
  • Postcards and playbills from local theatre productions.

We also have engravings, prints and drawings and an archive specifically relating to the history of the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum in Old Commercial Road.

Due to the nature of the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum we are unable to display a lot of the more fragile pieces there but appointments can be made to view pieces from the collection.

Donating to the Charles Dickens collection

We would be interested in original drawings, sketches or illustrations of characters and places from Dickens’ novels by artists such as George Cruikshank, JC Clarke aka KYD, H Copping or Frank Reynolds.

Take a look at our donations procedure page for further information.