If you’re interested in London’s history, go right to the source. At the Museum of London, you can witness the city’s development from, oh, 450 million years ago to the present. You can take in the Roman era, then Saxon, medieval and Tudor periods. I particularly like the extensive Great Fire display and the 1960’s memorabilia.
I’ve spent a lot of time this year viewing Dickens exhibits, and the exhibit here, Dickens and London, which runs until 10 June 2012, is the best. The museum has recreated Victorian London through sounds and projections. Dickens’s world is created through memorabilia including paintings, clothing, manuscripts and other urban and personal objects. Also, the exhibit examines social conditions that so affected Dickens’s work, such as poverty, sickness and prostitution.
Make sure not to miss the brief film, “The Houseless Shadow”, inspired by Dickens’s essay, “Night Walks.” The film explores modern-day London at night to the background narration of the essay, which explored the late night rambles Dickens took.
Dickens was an insomniac and wandered the streets of London at night, enabling him to develop an intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny of the city. As he walked, he plotted his novels and thought about his characters, which colored the unique, vibrant London-ness of his work.