The Extraordinary Life of Charles Dickens

A Virtual Exhibition

      About this Exhibition.  During the first quarter of the 20th century, a prominent Philadelphian, Judge John M. Patterson, organized a large archive of printed and manuscript material related to the life and work of Charles Dickens.  Judge Patterson’s ambition was to use this archive to extra-illustrate a copy of John C. Eckel's 1913 The First Editions of Charles Dickens and Their Values, a Bibliography.  Patterson and Eckel were friends and fellow bibliophiles, sharing membership in  the Grolier Club and the Dickens Fellowship.   Patterson died suddenly in 1925 at the age of 51, without having completed his project.

This web exhibition makes the Patterson archive available to the public.  The archive has been carefully annotated by Dickens enthusiasts, with the intent to deepen interest in and understanding of the life and work of Charles Dickens, his family, and his associates.

Archive images can be seen  in the Gallery.  Each image, with commentary, is organized under the section of the Eckel Bibliography (e.g. “Pickwick Papers”) where Patterson originally intended it to appear.  Selected images also appear under Highlights.


This Website is the companion to a Grolier Club of New York exhibition scheduled for January 26, 2006 through March 10, 2006.  The exhibition, at 47 East 60th Street in  Manhattan, will include material from this archive as well as rare books and other related Dickensiana.  The exhibition will be open to the public Tuesday-Friday, 1-5 pm, and is free.

This site, and its companion exhibition in New York, are designed to satisfy the curiosity of those with a scholarly interest in Charles Dickens, in English literary history, in bibliography and book illustration, as well as those with a more casual interest in Dickens as a writer and personality.

The website visitor with relatively little time should visit the Highlights section.  Visitors may choose to visit the Archive History, to read the unusual story behind the archive material.  The Chronology section summarizes key events in Dickens's life.

The Gallery is the visitor's gateway to all individual items in the archive.  Site design allows images to be approached by the individual works of Dickens, in order (i.e. Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, etc.); by searching for an individual topic (e.g. “Ellen Ternan” or “George Cruikshank”); or at random.  Please enjoy this self-guided literary and historical exhibition.

This site is maintained by loyal Dickensians.

To order a copy of the new limited edition publication that accompanies this exhibition, click here.

Copyright © 2004 Bruce J. Crawford. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/06/05