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Charles Dickens was born 201 years ago today. In celebration, his great-great-grandson Mark Dickens yesterday afternoon unveiled a replica of the Dog and Pot shop sign–a significant landmark in Charles’s early life–in the Southwark section of London. The sign consists of the figure of a dog, carved from elm wood, and an original iron pot.

Dog and Pot sign

Dog and Pot sign

The sign is at the junction of Blackfriars Road and Union Street. As a twelve-year-old, lonely, miserable, and bereft of the education he craved, Charles passed it daily on his homeward trek from his job at a blacking warehouse to his solitary lodgings in Lant Street. The rest of his family was in a debtor’s prison a few blocks away.

In an essay about his early life, Dickens wrote:
“My usual way home was over Blackfriars Bridge and down that turning in the Blackfriars Road which has Rowland Hill’s chapel on one side, and the likeness of a golden dog licking a golden pot over a shop door on the other.”
These words are now inscribed on a plaque set into a paved area surrounding the sign.

Members of the Canterbury Branch of the Dickens Fellowship, dressed in Victorian costume, attended the ceremony. So did pupils from Charles Dickens Primary School, who enlivened the occasion with a stirring–and appropriate–rendition of “How Much Is that Doggy in the the Window?”

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

See the full story and more photos here.

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