Charles Dickens

Welcome to the Rare Book Department's Charles Dickens Collection website. In honor of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens in 2012, the Free Library celebrated a "Year of Dickens" to showcase our outstanding collections. Charles Dickens was the most popular English writer of the Victorian age whose work continues to be studied, read, and enjoyed. In his career, which spanned a little over 35 years, he wrote 15 novels (if you count the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and countless shorter pieces of fiction and journalism, bringing into the world nearly 1,000 characters, many of them the most memorable characters in all of fiction.

Three portrait studies of Charles Dickens

On this site you will find information about the collectors who donated their magnificent collections; a digital database of selected letters, manuscripts, illustrations, and other treasures; online exhibitions; and a blog about all things Dickens.


The Department is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with a general tour of the collections at 11:00 a.m.

Using the collection

The collections can be viewed by prior arrangement—appointments can be made by calling 215-686-5416. Many of our collections can be searched online or through catalogs and finding aids that can be found in the department.