United Kingdom

An olive-skinned twist! Charles Dickens bucked the 'pallid Victorian' trend by sporting a TAN

A black-and-white photograph of Charles Dickens has been colourised to reveal a tanned complexion and a love of 'gaudy' waistcoats.

The first of eight images to be transformed ahead of the 150th anniversary of the author's death shows a 47-year-old Dickens wearing an 'ostentatious' patterned waistcoat, textured navy jacket and a bow tie.

Experts at The Charles Dickens Museum in Holborn, London, researched the novelist's fashion choices, skin tone and the complexion of his living descendants to create 'a really accurate portrayal', curator Frankie Kubicki said.

She added: 'We knew that Dickens loved bright colours, that he had a real passion for waistcoats and all these sort of amazing gaudy things.'

Slide me

The first of eight images to be transformed ahead of the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens' death shows a 47-year-old Dickens wearing an 'ostentatious' patterned waistcoat, textured navy jacket and a bow tie

A review article in The Dickensian said his dress sense 'struck all observers like a streak of lightning'.

And a colleague on The Morning Chronicle wrote that Dickens had an 'exuberant display of jewellery on his vest and on his fingers'.

Photography of the time made Dickens look 'very austere and that's not at all what Dickens was like,' Ms Kibicki said.

She said a 'glint in his eyes' showed his 'very playful nature' in the edited images.

'Seeing this image in colour - he's got that amazing little smile - It really gives a hint of what he was like.' 

The colour photographs are backed up by descriptions of Dickens and his clothes, which 'paint a picture of a Savile Row shopper with a keen sense of style, a fondness for a natty waistcoat and a daring eye for a lively ensemble,' she said.  

Researchers analysed the complexion and skin tone of two of his great-great grandsons, Gerald Dickens and Mark Dickens.

Photographer Oliver Clyde also worked with experts on the fashion of the time.

'My biggest surprise, and I think everyone else's biggest surprise, will be skin colour,' he said. 'Dickens bucks the image of the pallid Victorian complexion by being tanned and healthy looking.

'We know he loved travelling and being outside in the sun and that is reflected in the images.

Experts at The Charles Dickens Museum in Holborn, London, researched the novelist's fashion choices, skin tone and the complexion of his living descendants to create 'a really accurate portrayal', curator Frankie Kubicki said

'Seeing Dickens in colour reveals so much. You can see photographs where he clearly hasn't run a comb through his hair for days, where his beard is all over the place or where he's sweating after being made to stand in a hot room for hours on end.'

He said of the portrait: 'You get to see him as more of a person instead of this almost fictional character.'  

The portraits will feature in Technicolour Dickens: The Living Image Of Charles Dickens, an exhibition on how the author defined, changed and controlled his public image.

It will open at the Charles Dickens Museum - where Dickens  lived while writing Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby - when lockdown restrictions are eased.

The museum says that nearly all of its income streams have been cut off with closure and that it needs £30,000-a-month to cover the basic costs of caring for Dickens' house and the collection that it holds.

The first image has been released ahead of the 150th anniversary of the author's death, on June 9.

It can be seen at www.dickensmuseum.com and donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/campaign/DickensMuseumAppeal.

Football news:

Guardiola on the cancellation of the ban: Insanely happy for the team. The players are the reason why we got into the Champions League
Alaba wants to receive 20+ million euros a year. Its priority – Barcelona and Real Madrid, he doesn't want to go to city, Chelsea and PSG
Arteta said that top players want to go to Arsenal: The club has an incredible history. We play football that attracts
Sarri before Sassuolo: They are following the path of Atalanta. Juve must be prepared to endure
Again, we admire Atalanta: we threw 6 Brescia, scored 26 goals more than Juve, Pasalic has more goals in the spring than in Spartak
Rashford will become an honorary doctor of the University of Manchester. Before him, Ferguson and Charlton received degrees
Barcelona have made a request for 20-year-old Tottenham midfielder Sessegnon