Among the treasures to be found at Dickens’ former house (and now the Charles Dickens Museum) in Doughty Street, Bloomsbury, is the desk and accompanying chair where Dickens’ wrote several of his later novels including Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend and the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Dickens purchased the mahogany pedestal writing desk as well as the walnut and fruitwood smoker’s armchair in 1859. He used them in the study of his final home at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent (Dickens also had an identical chair in his London office which is now in the New York State Library).
After the author’s death in 1870, the desk and chair – which feature in Luke Fildes’ 1870 work The Empty Chair and the RW Buss’ 1875 work Dickens’ Dream – were passed down through the Dickens family until they was auctioned in the 2000s with the funds raised used to benefit the Great Ormond Street Hospital.
While the desk and chair had previously been loaned to the museum for display, in 2015 the establishment was able to purchase the desk and chair and make it part of its permanent collection thanks to a £780,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
While the museum is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we include these details for when it reopens.
WHERE: 48-49 Doughty Street, Bloomsbury (nearest Tube stations are Russell Square, Chancery Lane or Holborn). WHEN: Currently closed; COST: £9.50 adults/£7.50 concessions/£4.50 children (under six free); WEBSITE: www.dickensmuseum.com.