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Remembering Charles Dickens

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the death of beloved Victorian writer Charles Dickens. Dickens passed away at his country home in Kent, Gad’s Hill, on Thursday, June 9, 1870, having suffered a stroke the previous evening. He spent the morning of June 8 working on his last (unfinished) novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens had requested interment in a cemetery near Gad’s Hill, but public sentiment prevailed and Dickens was buried at Westminster Abbey in a private ceremony on the morning of Tuesday, June 14.

Dickens’ friend, prominent journalist George Augustus Sala, published a tribute to Dickens in The Daily Telegraph on June 10, 1870. This essay was quickly expanded and issued as a memorial pamphlet with an account of Dickens’ death and a description of his funeral — note the black mourning border on the title page. Several biographies of Dickens appeared through the end of the 19th century, including a recollection by his eldest daughter Mamie Dickens. These and other important early biographies can be found in the Victorian Collection by searching on the subject term “Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870.”

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