Tour Locations | Charles Dickens from Furnival's Inn to Doughty Street
Left on Clerkenwell Road
Turn left here and keep walking.
Hundreds of years ago, Clerkenwell was a little hamlet outside the City of London. It was surrounded by religious communities. They came to the area because of its water source, which became known as "Clerks' Well". Dickens would not, however, have known this road that you're walking along. Clerkenwell Road was a new thoroughfare that opened in 1878, eight years after Dickens had died. The building of this road not only got rid of some of the worst slum areas, but also destroyed many beautiful old roads and buildings that Dickens would have recognised.
A short journey away was the old Charterhouse School. This is where the young William Thackeray was a pupil. Thackeray entered Charterhouse in 1822, while the young Charles Dickens was still at school in Kent. The two men were destined to meet many years later. In 1824, while Thackeray was still a privileged, albeit unhappy, schoolboy at one of the top schools in Britain, Dickens had been forced to leave school and start work as a child labourer. He worked at Warren's Blacking Factory.
Just as Dickens would write with anger about bullying headmasters in Hard Times and Nicholas Nickleby, William Thackeray also wrote about his school days. In his essay ‘On Two Children in Black’, Thackeray recalled: “hard bed, hard words, strange boys bullying, and laughing, and jarring you with their hateful merriment..."
Dickens and Thackeray had a complicated relationship. They were very good friends, but also firm rivals. Both were highly respected novelists who edited their own magazines, in which their own books were serialised. Both men also had a baby daughter who died in infancy and 2 daughters who survived. These four little girls became lifelong friends. In 1858, however, Charles Dickens and William Thackeray had a furious, and notorious, row which ended their friendship. The two men were reconciled five years later – thanks to Dickens's daughter Katey and Thackeray's daughter Anny. They made up shortly before Thackeray's sudden and unexpected death.
Keep walking straight.