A walking tour of Dickens’s London
The highlight of the exhibition is a 17-minute documentary by William Raban called The Houseless Shadow, which follows a route described by Dickens in his 1861 essay Night Walks. A voiceover artist reads Dickens’s descriptions of night-owl activity by Londoners, such as policemen, butchers and train passengers, while documentary footage unspools the modern-day counterparts to the Dickensian scenes on the same street corners 150 years later – a living history anyone can see, day or night, on their own walking tour.
The best online map of key sites is David Perdue’s Dickens’s London map for 2012, though it omits a few of the locations mentioned in this article. Alternatively, iPhone users may like the Museum of London’s Dark London app (free), which offers a GPS-guided tour to locations resonant with associations with Dickens’s life and works.
If you prefer having a guide, many companies offer walking tours with a Dickens theme, and the city’s official website, Visit London, provides listings. London Walks runs the most lyrical and evocative two-hour tours, such as its Friday afternoon Charles Dickens’s London itinerary, led by enthusiastic storytellers.