The New York Public Library currently has an exhibit on display in its flagship building entitled Charles Dickens: The Key to Character. The exhibit “celebrates the power of Dickens’s characters to be imagined ever anew, examining important precedents for his art of characterization as well as intersections between his personal and his literary creations.” A few of the items on display are artwork by over twenty illustrators, the memoranda book Dickens used to jot down possible character names, and his 1867 pocket diary that contained the code Dickens used to communicate with his mistress.
Flavorwire noted a very interesting part of this exhibit that the NYPL website did not mention: a replication of Dickens’s ‘fake library’. After moving into Tavistock House in 1851, Dickens apparently wanted to fill a space in his study with fake books, the witty titles of which he came up with himself, and “wrote to a bookbinder with a list of ‘imitation book-backs’ to be created specially for his bookshelf.”
For the current exhibit curators at the NYPL recreated some titles from Dickens’s imitation library, which included titles such as Jonah’s Account of the Whale, Kant’s Ancient Humbugs, Captain Parry’s Virtue of Cold Tar, The Art of Cutting the Teeth, and Drowsy’s Recollections of Nothing. (Additional images and titles can be found at the link.)
I swear, every time I read something about Dickens, I learn something new; what a fascinating man!
Check Out Charles Dickens’ Library of Fake Books [Flavorwire]