A memorial statue of Charles Dickens is to be erected in his home town of Portsmouth, despite the author saying he didn't want one.

Dickens, the most successful British novelist of the Victorian era, famous for works such as Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby and The Old Curiosity Shop, was born in the Landport area of the naval city on 7th February 1812 and his birthplace is now a museum.

The 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth takes place in a year's time and, to celebrate, Portsmouth is to erect a statue of him, funded by American fans with some contribution from Portsmouth council.

However, Dickens was adamant that there should be no memorial to him after his death, stating in his will: "I conjure to my friends on no account to make me the subject of any monument, memorial or testimonial whatsoever."

But his great-great-grandson, Gerald Dickens, has said that now is the "perfect time" to remember him.

Dickens only lived in Portsmouth for three years. In 1815 his family moved to London. During Charles' childhood, his father was imprisoned in the infamous Marshalsea Debtors' Prison in Southwark, south London which, from 1329 until it closed it 1842, housed men under court martial for crimes at sea, including those who had committed "unnatural crimes"; political figures and intellectuals accused of sedition or other inappropriate behaviour; and—most famously—London's debtors, the length of their stay determined largely by the whim of their creditors. Shortly afterwards, the rest of his family joined him - except Charles, who boarded with family friend Elizabeth Roylance in Camden Town, northwest London. To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens began working ten-hour days at Warren's Blacking Warehouse, on Hungerford Stairs, near the present Charing Cross railway station. He earned six shillings a week pasting labels on shoe polish. The strenuous - and often cruel - work conditions made a deep impression on Dickens which later influenced many of the books he wrote.

His first full novel was The Pickwick Papers, which he wrote in 1837, the year Queen Victoria came to the Throne. His most successful novel was A Tale of Two Cities, which was published in 1859, the year that another great British book was published - On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris, then the world's two biggest cities, before and during the French Revolution, has sold over 200 million copies worldwide.

He died in Higham, Kent, on 9th June 1870 aged 58.

Portsmouth plans Dickens statue, despite will request

10 February 2011
BBC News

It is hoped the statue of Dickens will be in a public place

A memorial statue of Charles Dickens could be erected in Portsmouth despite the Victorian author requesting that none should be built.

Plans are in place as part of the bicentenary of the Oliver Twist creator's birth in April 2012.

However in his will he wrote: "I conjure to my friends on no account to make me the subject of any monument, memorial or testimonial whatsoever."

His great-great grandson Gerald said the Dickens' family backed the plans.

The author was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812 where he spent the first three years of his life.

His birthplace has been turned into a museum.

'Perfect time'

Gerald Dickens is the great-great-grandson of the famous Victorian author

The statue will be unveiled on the 200th anniversary of his birth, although a location has not yet been confirmed.

It will be funded by American fans with some contribution from Portsmouth council.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said any plans needed to have been approved by his descendants.

"He's probably the greatest of all British novelists and we should celebrate - not only that he is great at literature but that he was born and christened in Portsmouth.

"We have talked to his family, they said that it's now the right time and the appropriate time to do this.

The author was born in Portsmouth and lived there for three years

The author has two statues in his honour, in Philadelphia in the US and Sydney, Australia.

His great-great grandson, Gerald Dickens, said it was the "perfect time" to remember him, despite the wording of Dickens' will.

"We are of the opinion that in that particular part of the will he was very much talking about the immediate aftermath of his death and the arrangements for his funeral, which he didn't want to be ostentatious in any way.

"In Victorian England the the type of statues and monuments erected were massive, huge, unbelievable garish monstrosities.

"I can't believe that he as a person wouldn't want people to be able to celebrate and remember his life and much more importantly his works and the work he did from those novels."

A young Charles Dickens in 1842

Mr Dickens said he hoped the statue will be displayed in a public place.

"Dickens was a man of the people and that's where it should be," he added.

Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 13th, 2011 at 02:55 PM..