News | April 15, 2024

New Exhibition Celebrates Charles Dickens' Pets and Animals in his Books and Homes

Charles Dickens Museum

Charles Dickens, pictured with his favourite dog, a mastiff called Turk

A new exhibition will be the first to celebrate the animals that found their way into the books and homes of Charles Dickens, throwing the spotlight on to the dogs, ravens, goldfinches and cats who shared houseroom with the Dickens family, as well as Dickens’s horses and the animals that became characters in his stories.

Faithful Companions: Charles Dickens & his Pets runs from May 15, 2024 until January 12, 2025 at the Charles Dickens Museum in London. Featuring handwritten letters, Dickens family picture albums, photographs and beautiful illustrations, the exhibition will reveal the animals that shared Dickens’s life. It will be full of tales of Dickens’s pets, including the household havoc caused by beloved raven Grip who loved an inappropriate peck, became a character in Barnaby Rudge and was believed to have been the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. There will also be a focus on Bob the cat who regularly put out Dickens’s reading light in a persistent bid for attention. Many of the tales are told by Charles Dickens himself in a series of rarely-seen letters.

In the first half of the 19th century, when the Dickens family lived at Doughty Street in the house which now houses his museum, London had become a city full of animals, with cattle heading to Smithfield Market, dogs performing in the streets and horses pulling carts and omnibuses. A great chronicler of society, Dickens captured this Victorian profusion of animals in his stories and his journals.