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Robert McNamara

Unusual New Sculpture Honors Charles Dickens

By February 7, 2013

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Today is the birthday of the great Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, who was born 201 years ago. The celebrations this year are muted compared to last year's elaborate Dickens Bicentennial events, which included a service beside the writer's grave at Westminster Abbey.

To commemorate the great writer's triumph over adversity, a local government council in London unveiled a sculpture yesterday which replicates a shop sign Dickens passed each day during a difficult stretch in his boyhood.

Dickens had been forced to work in a factory at the age of 12 when his father was imprisoned for running up debts. Later in life, Dickens remembered passing, every morning on his walk to work, a "likeness of a golden dog licking a golden pot over a shop door..."

A descendant of the writer, Mark Dickens, spoke at the unveiling of the new "Dog and Pot" sculpture. He noted that his great-great-grandfather had resolved, during those walks to and from his factory job, to somehow succeed at life.

The young Dickens felt great shame at having to work putting labels on shoe polish jars. But he was eventually able to learn stenography and develop his aptitude for writing, and he embarked on a career as a reporter, essayist, and novelist. With his legendary determination and discipline, he would become the most popular writer of his time.


Illustration: Charles Dickens as a young novelist/Library of Congress

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