Maidstone, All Saints' Church and the Palace by E. W. Haslehust (1866-1949).. Watercolour on paper. Source: Haslehust and Nicklin, Dickens-land, facing page 37. Text and formatting by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage Illustrated

To Maidstone Jail Dickens proposed to carry Sir Luke Fildes, in order that he might make a picture of Jasper in the condemned cell, and do something which would surpass Cruikshank's illustration to Oliver Twist, in which Fagin's terror-stricken vigil in the murderer's cell is portrayed.

At Maidstone the southern limit may be considered to have been reached of the district of Kent which can be distinguished as "Dickens-land" in the most intimate sense, as lying within the radius of the novelist's habitual walks and drives from his residence at Gadshill. [46]

Commentary

In Maidstone, contends Nicklin, Dickens found his model for the "ancient and loyal borough" (to quote The Pickwick Papers) of Muggleton. One receives little sense of the country town from the novel, which emphasizes the beauties and past-times of nearby Manor Farm, Dingley Dell, there being considerable, but friendly rivalry between the town and manor on the cricket pitch. "The most plausible identification of the home of Mr. Wardle is with Cobtree Hall, which divides the parishes of Boxley and Allington, and it is probable that the original of Muggleton was Town Mallingham, which is also known as West Malling" (Nicklin, 37). However, Maidstone is approximately the correct distance fromRochester, whereas West Malling is not, Dickens giving the journey from the Medway town to Dingley Dell as being fifteen miles.

References

Dickens, Charles. The Pickwick Papers. il. Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Lynch, Tony. Dickens England: An A to Z Tour of the Real and Imagined Locations. A Traveller 's Companion. London: Batsford, 2012.

Nicklin, J. A. Dickens-land. Il. E. W. Haslehust. Beautiful England series. Glasgow & London: Blackie & Son, 1911.


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Last modified 25 February 2014