In 1839, the writer and physiologist George Henry Lewes visited Charles Dickens at Doughty Street and examined his bookshelves. He left accusing Dickens of being ‘completely outside philosophy, science, and the higher literature’. For over 150 years, it was thought that Charles Dickens was either not interested in science, or was downright hostile to it. But Dickens's science was not the science of books or learned institutions; for Dickens, science mattered when it transformed lives by curing disease or cleaning streets, or opening up new vistas of wonder in a humdrum world.
Charles Dickens: Man of Science aims to reveal Dickens not only as a scientific enthusiast, but as the key communicator of science in the Victorian age. Displaying his writings alongside artefacts, instruments, and texts of the developing sciences, the museum shares the story of Dickens’s friendships and scientific passions. Journeying through some of Dickens's favourite sciences - geology, thermodynamics, chemistry, and medicine - we reveal that what made him a great writer was precisely what made him a man of science.
Images and video: Charles Dickens Museum