Charles Dickens has a long and deep association with Southwark, both personal and literary, and particularly with the area known as the Borough.
Born on 7 February 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens at 1 Mile End Terrace (now 393 Commercial Road), Portsmouth. The young Charles Dickens spent his seemingly idyllic early years on the move, as his family relocated from Portsmouth to London, then Sheerness, before settling in Chatham, Kent until the age of 11. At this time Dickens’ father was recalled to London amid rising debts as the family lived beyond its means. John Dickens was sent to Marshalsea Debtors Prison in the area known as the Borough and was joined by his wife and youngest children, as was customary at the time.
Poor Charles was left to lodge alone, at the age of just 12 years old, in nearby Lant Street. And this is where his long and deep association with Southwark, both personal and literary, began.
This month we will be looking into some of Dickens’ old haunts in a series of blogs. If you want to wrap up warm and step out onto the streets yourself, you can download our app (for iPhone or Android), and let the narrator take you on a journey that unveils Dickens’ Southwark. You can also use the Literary Map to see where Dickens’ books (and those of other authors) relate to the streets of Southwark.