Few novelists have written so intimately about a city as Charles Dickens wrote about London, but he was intimately connected to Kent more than any other part of Britain.
He had an idyllic childhood in Chatham and Kent features in his first works of fiction, Sketches by Boz and The Pickwick Papers, and in his favourite novel, David Copperfield. In his last ten years he wrote two novels with strong Kentish themes, Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He had his honeymoon outside Gravesend, and often spent the summer months in Broadstairs. In 1856 he bought Gad’s Hill Place, near Rochester, and died there in 1870.
Dickens’s Kent begins with the description of a walk from London to Dickens’s main residence, Gad’s Hill Place, before taking the reader to areas in Kent most closely associated with his life and work – the Medway Towns and their surroundings, Thanet and East Kent, and finally Staplehurst, the scene of the railway accident that nearly killed him.
Peter Clark is a writer and translator, and research associate at SOAS, University of London. He worked in the overseas service of the British Council for over thirty years, has translated novels and history from Arabic, and written books on Istanbul and Marmaduke Pickthall. He is the author of The Men of 1924, Churchill’s Britain and Dickens’s London.
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