• LOCATION 8 | Charles Dickens from Furnival's Inn to Doughty Street

    Little Italy

    Keep walking straight.

    By the mid-19th century, this part of London was known as Little Italy and St Peter's Church was opened for the Italian community. For fans of Sherlock Holmes - this is where Arthur Conan Doyle's short story 'The Adventure of the Six Napoleons' was set.

    Dickens knew this area so well because, after they left Furnival's Inn, he and Catherine moved to nearby Doughty Street in Bloomsbury. Dickens was always bursting with energy and he found the long periods of sitting, that writing required, made him desperate to get up and walk as much as he could. Whenever he needed to take a break, to work out a new plotline, or to think up a new character, he would go for walks. He often suffered insomnia and many of his walks would happen at night.

    Dickens knew so well the kind of Londoners who would feature in his novels, because of his impoverished childhood and the times he had to walk around the meanest streets of Georgian London, on his own. When his father was arrested for debt in 1824, Charles's mother and his younger siblings all ended up living in the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison too. So the young Charles had to live by himself, in a lodging house. On most days he would walk an 8-mile round trip: from his lodgings, to work, to the prison and then back again. All of this was usually in the dark, as he worked a 10-hour day, six days a week. Criminals like Bill Sikes and Fagin were the kind of people the young Charles Dickens had to learn to recognise and avoid.

    Carry on walking to the end of the street.

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Charles Dickens from Furnival's Inn to Doughty Street