>> Slipping into the darkest corners of victorian London, firing off impassioned accounts, Charles Dickens was first and foremost a journalist. As Restless Shadow, an exhibition opening Tuesday at London's Dickens Museum shows, it's in some ways a tale of two writers. We know of Dickens the novelist, but he was also the first true investigative journalist.
I'm Lucy Fielder, reporting from Reuters from his former home. He'd set off from here to go to public executions, which he hated, so that he could document their horrors for the wider world. He'd go to poor houses, he'd go to hospitals, he'd even go along with the local policemen on the beat and to criminal raids.
So that he could really see with his own eyes the things he was going to write about. This engraved walking stick accompanied Dickens for hundreds of miles as he pounded the pavements on his investigations. His editor's chair when he headed a weekly journal is another star of the show.
Dickens' serialized stories made him a household name, but few knew at the time that a deprived childhood inspired him. At 11, he worked in a factory to support his parents and siblings languishing behind bars, he was largely self taught. As actor Simon Callow, a museum patron and Dickens' biographer explains, he would go where others feared to tread.
>> He knew what it was to be poor, to be hungry, to be frightened, to mix with people who are potentially going to be criminals. And he knew that he himself so easily could have become a criminal. You could imagine with his brilliance and his imagination, his flare, all that, he could have been a really successful criminal.
mething in him knew that he mustn't go down that route.>> Oliver Twist, Fagin, a cast of characters were born of Dickens' explorations. His journalism and fiction so often intertwined.