Conservation in action: Dickens' manuscripts

Please see the video below to watch this great film showing a NMCT-funded conservation project in action! Conservation of Maria Bednall's album 

Remote video URL

This is the conservation of the Dickens Museum's Maria Bednall's album by Anne-Marie Miller ACR of Codex Conservation.  The Charles Dickens Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of material relating to the life and work of Dickens, including a substantial archive that supports around 50 research projects each year. The album was one of eight manuscripts that are in high demand from researchers, but were fragile and in need of conservation which were conserved in 2020 thanks to NMCT's support:

  • The Pickwick Club Minute Book (1837-1843): this is a minute book of the earliest known ‘Pickwick Club’ and documents the gatherings of a group of young men mimicking the Pickwick Club of Dickens’s novel.
  • Maria Beadnell’s album (1830s): the lady’s album of Dickens’s first love contains the first examples of his literary work, three poems. Maria inspired the character of Dora in David Copperfield and later Flora Finching in Little Dorrit.
  • Six of Dickens’s personal reading copies: these are personally-annotated scripts from which Dickens performed dramatised public readings of his works, 1850s-1870.

Conservation was undertaken by Codex Conservation and the items were digitised by a professional photographer and the British Library Digitisation Services Team. The digitised manuscripts have been added to the museum's online collection database, allowing researchers from the UK and abroad to gain full access to these items.

25 May 2021