Charles Dickens statue unveiled in Portsmouth

Charles Dickens
Image caption Although there are statues of Charles Dickens overseas, this is the first full-sized one in Britain

The first Charles Dickens statue in the UK has been unveiled, on what would have been his 202nd birthday.

The bronze statue of the writer surrounded by books has been placed in Guildhall Square in Portsmouth, the city in which he was born.

More than 100 invited guests, including 40 members of the Dickens family, attended.

One of the youngest members, nine-year-old Oliver Dickens, helped to unveil the £140,000 statue.

Dickens stipulated that when he died there should be no memorial to his life, apart from his published works.

Image copyright @portsmouthtoday
Image caption One of the youngest members of the Dickens family, nine-year-old Oliver Dickens, unveiled the statue

However, professor Tony Pointon, chairman of the Charles Dickens statue committee, said the event marked a "wonderful day for Portsmouth".

He said: "When we had the idea 20 years ago, we knew the statue had to be in his place of birth.

"Finally after years of fundraising Charles Dickens and the city are both getting what they deserve."

'Richness of his imagination'

Mark Charles Dickens, the writer's great, great, grandson, said the Dickens family was "delighted" that a statue would "at long last" be erected in the UK.

"This is the culmination of years of hard work by many dedicated people," he said.

"We really hope that this magnificent statue will stimulate and inspire future generations to discover the genius of his writing and his passionate campaign for social justice."

The statue was made by Oxfordshire sculptor Martin Jennings, whose previous works include sculptures of poets John Betjeman at London's St Pancras Station and Philip Larkin in Hull.

Mr Jennings said he wanted the statue to "express Dickens's energy, the richness of his imagination and the abundance of his output".

Although there are Dickens statues overseas, including Philadelphia and Sydney, this will be the first full-sized statue of the author in Britain.

Portsmouth's Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is opening to the public for free all day to "celebrate" the new statue.

Image caption Sculptor Martin Jennings wanted the statue to "express Dickens's energy"

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