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Phone: 02031081101

Ext: 51101

Office location: Rm 38, 2nd floor, South Wing, UCL Main Quadrangle

Dickens's London

2012 is the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, the Department of English Language and Literature and the UCL Library and Special Collections are hosting the Exhibition as an opportunity to reflect on the improvements to public health and the urban environment since Dickens's time, taking a literary and historical perspective, and explore the resonances for cities in developing countries today. We see the campaign to improve the urban environment of Victorian London through two great reforming minds of the day, Charles Dickens and the social reformer and philanthropist Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890). Chadwick had close associations with UCL and the chair in Civil Engineering bears his name.

If you were unable to attend the event, a recording of the event can be found embedded below:

Dickens's London: Exhibition

The Exhibition compares the conditions of Dickens’s London with those today in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a city with a booming population, cramped and informal housing, poor sanitation, cholera and extremes of wealth and poverty. An earthquake devastated the city on the 12th January 2010 causing the death of up to 316,000 people. The earthquake was followed by a severe outbreak of cholera with over a quarter of a million cases and more than 7,000 reported deaths. Many Haitians blamed the outbreak on a sewage spill from a UN peacekeeping base.

Two Reforming Minds
The Thames and Fatality
Pent-up Neighbourhoods and Child Health
New Roads

Science and Dickens: Publication by The Institution of Environmental Sciences

The Institution of Environmental Sciences has published an article on the talk that Julian Hunt gave at the IRDR Dickens' London Event. The article can be found on their website and can be downloaded here.


The Dickens’s London Exhibition was produced by Peter Sammonds1, Matthew Ingleby2, Rosemary Ashton2, Kate Cheney3, Gill Furlong3, Linda O’Halloran4 and Gynna Franco4, assisted by Lucy Stanbrough1, Sussanah Chan5, Elizabeth Lawes3 and Mary Hinkley6, based on original research by Matthew Ingleby2.

1. UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction
2. UCL Department of English Language and Literature
3. UCL Library Services
4. Thinking Development
5. UCL Museums and Collections
6. UCL Learning & Media Services

Credits: National Portrait Gallery (Chadwick and Dickens), Wikipedia (Snow map and letter), Google Books (Punch cartoons), Museum of London (Booth map), Dickens 2012 (image) and Thinking Development (images of Haiti).