Dickens detective lectures at Wisbech Grammar School

Dr Richardson with puils from Wisbech Grammar School.

Dr Richardson with puils from Wisbech Grammar School. - Credit: Archant

A CELEBRATED historian who helped to locate the site of Oliver Twist’s workhouse revealed the story of her detective work during a presentation at Wisbech Grammar School.

More than 60 students and visitors attended the lecture by Dr Ruth Richardson, to hear the author of Dickens and the Workhouse tell the story of her sleuthing which caught the attention of the international media when the book was published in 2012.

In the third of a series of lectures organised by Wisbech and Fenland Museum launched last year to mark the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of the nineteenth century novelist Charles Dickens, Dr Richardson explained how she established the closeness of the workhouse building to the London house where Dickens lived in Cleveland Street.

She had also discovered a string of names of people living in the area which would have suggested names for characters in the novels, including a Mr Dan Weller who lived opposite Dickens’s family home and a Mr Bill Sykes living virtually next door to the novelist.

Dr Richardson also displayed the image of a blue plaque which is to be mounted on the writer’s first London home in June, giving the dates when Dickens was living there and explaining that it is just a few doors from the Cleveland Street Workhouse, which would have served as a model for the institution where Oliver dared to ask for more.

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