Preview The Morgan Library’s Massive Charles Dickens Exhibition

Charles Dickens would have turned 200 years old next year. To celebrate the bicentennial of the great Victorian novelist, The Morgan Library hosts Charles Dickens at 200, an exhibition of Dickens’ novels and stories, his letters, books, photographs, original illustrations, and caricatures as well as other personal effects. Organized by Declan Kiely, the Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head of Literary and Historical Manuscripts, the exhibit runs through February 12, 2012 and presents an ongoing series of gallery talks, lectures, and film screenings.

Among the offerings on view at the library are a portrait of Dickens at age 29 just a few months before he made his first trip to the US; an appeal to fallen women “anonymously” written (by Dickens) encouraging London prostitutes to enter a home Dickens created; a watercolor of Hungerford Stairs, which shows Warren’s Blacking Factory where Dickens worked as a 12-year-old boy wrapping boot-blacking bottles — a traumatic experience that worked its way into his novels; and many personal effects from seals to playbills. Following is a small sample of illustrations and effects you’ll see at this vast exhibit, which captures the art and life of the peerless literary superstar.

Charles Dickens’ ink pot. Courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Photo credit: Graham S. Haber