The memories of Charles Dickens
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A walk to discover Higham, Charles Dickens' adoptive town

St. John Church
(by Bill Boaden, CC BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)
Title page of "A Christmas Carol", first edition (1843)

(by Bill Boaden, CC BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

From a young age, Dickens expressed an aversion to certain aspects of organised religion. He even wrote a pamphlet on aversion in which he claimed the people’s right to freedom and pleasure.

Dickens was nevertheless considered a professing Christian, so much so that his son, Henry Fielding Dickens, described him as someone who “possessed deep religious convictions”.

As a regular visitor, Charles curiously suggested the church pastor read the holy sermons more from the chest rather than from the throat. He assured him that this would improve the listening of his audience, a fundamental trick Dickens had learnt during his career attending theatres and operas.

On 4 January 1842, he left with his wife for the USA, where, by now a well-known writer, he visited Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Richmond. In Virginia, he is disgusted by the widespread condition of slavery of black men. The journey also touches Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St Louis. In 1843, he published one of his most famous short novels: A Christmas Carol.

Between 1844 and 1845, he stayed for a long time in Genoa and had the opportunity to visit several other Italian cities, including La Spezia, Bologna (in particular the Certosa), Carrara, Rome, Naples and Mantua. The account of these journeys formed the material for his book Pictures from Italy. During his long stay in Genoa, in the summer of 1844, he wrote The Chimes.

He then returned to England, where he set up a liberal newspaper, campaigning to abolish the protectionist Corn Laws. In 1846, in January, the first issue of the Daily News came out, the fruit of this endeavour, whose guiding principles would be: improvement, progress, education, religious and civil liberty, and fair legislation. After only 17 issues, however, he resigned as editor, complaining that incompetents surrounded him.


1. Higham Station

2. St. John Church

3. Higham Library

4. Gad's Hill