This painting was originally called 'A Souvenir of Dickens' was painted by Robert W Buss (1804-75) copied from a photograph by Herbert Watkins, and shows Dickens in his study at Gad's Hill, dreaming of some of the many characters he has created. It was left unfinished and presented to the Charles Dickens Museum in 1928 by his grandson.
************It will not have gone unnoticed that today is Charles Dickens' 200th birthday and to celebrate this I am launching my Dickens Reading Group at our local library. Our first read will be Oliver Twist a story about the orphaned Oliver who was born into a life of poverty and misfortune. As an ardent social reformer Dickens uses this character to criticise public policy towards the poor in the 1830s highlighting the social and moral evils of the workhouse and the criminal world.
He was orphaned at birth when his mother died and his father fled, leaving Oliver to be taken to the workhouse where he was brought up with little food and few comforts. At nine years old his overseer Mr Bumble moves him into the main workhouse where food is also very short. Fed up with their hunger, the boys drew lots to decide who was going to complain. The task falls to Oliver, who at the next meal tremblingly comes forward with his bowl in his hand and makes his famous plea:
"Please sir I want some more".
Later he is to meet up with the brutal robber Bill Sikes
Although treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, Oliver is a pious and innocent child and his true identity is the central mystery of the novel.
Pictures by courtesy of Wikipedia