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Charles Dickens and public transport: the last word on the bicentenary


The Charles Dickens bicentenary has been taken very seriously by anyone who can string a sentence together. Robert McCrum in yesterday’s Observer brought my attention to Charles Dickens’s Networks: Public Transport and the Novel by Jonathan Grossman.

Grossman explores the rise of the global, high-speed passenger transport network in the 19th century and the indelible impact it made on Dickens’ work. The first Tube line, the Metropolitan, opened in 1863 – seven years before the author’s death – so I wonder what he made of underground trains. I’m sure he’d have written at length about the Northern Line if he’d ever ridden it.

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Richard Davies

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