Preserving the words
Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’m a big fan of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses many treasures illustrating not only our own culture but the world. This week the museum is launching a campaign to conserve three of Dickens’s original manuscripts which were acquired from the writer’s home by his friend John Forster and bequeathed to the museum in 1876. The race is on to restore the priceless originals in time for Dickens’ bicentenary of Dickens’ birth in 2012.
“At the moment we can’t display these manuscripts safely because they are so damaged and so fragile,”
said John Meriton, deputy keeper of word and image at the V&A.
“They were last conserved in the 1960s, when they were rebound and placed in what are called ‘guard books’. But the backing paper used, unfortunately, was very acidic, causing a lot of stress to the original manuscript leaves.”
A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and Dickens last unfinished novel manuscript The Mystery of Edwin Drood will all be restored and conserved for the public to see – if the money can be found (which I’m confident it will be). Dickens has contributed so much to English literature. He has entertained, prodded consciences and provoked social awareness with his sharp commentaries upon the poor, working conditions and the division of the social classes. He has cocked a snoot at the Upper class and championed the orphan. He should be celebrated!
If not – just enjoy the illustrations – I shall be running a fun poll soon to see which Dicken’s illustrator is the most popular (and there are many…)
More about the V and A’s campaign to conserve these precious manuscripts here