Dickens’ Chamber of Horrors, Part 1

Dear Charlie,

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on when it comes to your body of work, it’s that you had a fantastic knack for creating memorable characters. Just mentioning Mr Pickwick, Sairey Gamp or Uriah Heep conjures vivid mental images.

Unfortunately, the popularity of these same characters has meant that the world is full of depictions of these same characters in some form or other. And while I commend the spirit in which these homages to your talents were undertaken, the result of this well-meaning adoration is that there exist some truly ugly and often terrifying depictions of your characters. I brought one of these creations to light in a previous post, but the more you look, the more they seem to leap out of the woodwork.

Be warned! What follows is not for the faint of heart.

Let’s start with one of the most terrifying paintings I’ve ever seen, Dickens-related or not.

Let’s take Little Dorrit‘s master of the Circumlocution office, Mr. Tite Barnacle. Yes, he’s inefficient, and yes he is one of society’s less benign elements, but Mr. Frederick Blanch has made him the stuff of nightmares:


Forget his career of manufacturing red tape – it looks more like this man would eat babies for breakfast and spend his afternoon torturing small animals <shudder>.

TurveydropEbaySilverJFFradleyNCoFar less terrifying, but still pretty damn ugly, is a silver bookmark depicting Mr. Turveydrop of Bleak House fame, who you described thus:

He was a fat old gentleman with a false complexion, false teeth, false whiskers, and a wig. He had a fur collar, and he had a padded breast to his coat, which only wanted a star or a broad blue ribbon to be complete. He was pinched in, and swelled out, and got up, and strapped down, as much as he could possibly bear. […] He had under his arm a hat of great size and weight, shelving downward from the crown to the brim, and in his hand a pair of white gloves with which he flapped it as he stood poised on one leg in a high-shouldered, round-elbowed state of elegance not to be surpassed. He had a cane, he had an eye-glass, he had a snuff-box, he had rings, he had wristbands, he had everything but any touch of nature; he was not like youth, he was not like age, he was not like anything in the world but a model of deportment.

Personally, I don’t think any physical depiction of the character could possibly be as vivid as your fabulous description is. This fellow here, apart from the hat and gloves, looks more the model of dopiness than the model of deportment.

But it is with Mr. Pickwick that your adoring fans have taken the most horrifying liberties. I find this¬†especially distressing, since he’s one of the most adorable characters in your body of work, and I feel a bit protective of him.

Let’s start with a teapot, since it’s only a little cringe-worthy. I’m a little Pickwick, short and stout:


Here is my boneless arm and here is my other boneless arm. And scarily oversized eyebrows. At least this Mr. Pickwick has eyebrows. And eyes.

Unlike this terrifying plaque:


I admit that time has not been kind to this artifact, but the fact that almost all his facial features have been rubbed off changes it from sweet to seriously spooky.

And speaking of Pickwicks to which time has not been kind, let me show you a shaving brush (how popular was this character, that they made him into a shaving brush!):


Ack! Totally. Frickin’. Terrifying.

I have a couple more, if you’re still with me.

Here’s a Mr. Pickwick that looks as if he’s had some really terrible plastic surgery that has turned him into a Joker look-alike:


Seriously, what is wrong with his face?!?

And I have no idea who this was supposed to be, with his no hair, lipstick, mascara and too-wide sunglasses, but Pickwick it most assuredly isn’t:


And so ends our first installment of Dickens’ Chamber of Horrors. I’m sorry it ever came to this, Charlie.

Stay tuned for more exciting and horrifying finds from around the web.



One comment on “Dickens’ Chamber of Horrors, Part 1

  1. Gina says:

    As they used to say on “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” that’s some good old-fashioned nightmare fuel right there.

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