What the Dickens?! New Statue of the Author Defies His Dying Wish To Not Be Memorialized

Before his death in 1870, Charles Dickens made two requests regarding how his body and image should be treated, both of which have been ignored. He was neither buried at Rochester Cathedral — his remains rest at Westminster Abbey — nor was he spared the homage of a public memorial. In addition to a life-sized statue cast in 1891 that stands in Philadelphia, Dickens is to be the subject of a new memorial sculpture by Martin Jennings that will be unveiled in the author’s hometown of Portsmouth on the 133rd anniversary of his June 9 death, the Telegraph reports.

Commissioned by the Dickens Fellowship, a group supported by the author’s family, the memorial project was stalled until an anonymous donor provided the last £25,000 ($40,600) needed to foot its £118,000 ($192,000) cost. Jennings’s other public memorials include a statue of Sir John Betjeman in London’s St. Pancras Station, a bronze of Philip Larkin at the Hull Paragon station, and a portrait bust of the Queen Mother at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The new memorial joins another recently brightened beacon for Dickens-philes, the expanded and renovated Charles Dickens Museum, which reopened in November at the author’s one-time London home after a £1.3-million ($2.1-million) remodeling.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image: Detail from Henry Charles Bryant’s “Charles Dickens,” circa 1870. © Portsmouth Museums and Records Service. Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation Via Your Paintings.)