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Charles Dickens immortalised Clerkenwell in several of his novels, including Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge and Our Mutual Friend.

Now a new exhibition focuses on the teenage years before his literary success - and the woman who inspired his career. Dickens’s First Love runs until 19 April at the Charles Dickens Museum, based close to EC1 in the author’s former home in Doughty Street. Maria Beadnell, a banker’s daughter, had a three-year courtship with Dickens, who was then a young journalist. Before breaking off the relationship, she inspired him to better himself as he pursued a literary career. The exhibition includes his love poems and comic verse as well as this portrait of the 18-year-old Dickens by his aunt.


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