Portrait of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens portrait

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812.

This oil painting by Henry Charles Bryant (1836 -1915) shows Charles Dickens in middle age, reading a book or magazine. The volume does not have a title but it is probably meant to be a copy of one of the magazines that Dickens founded as the publishing vehicles for his writings, either ‘All The Year Round’ or ‘Household Words’.

Henry Charles Bryant was a Portsmouth-based artist who was moderately successful both locally and nationally. This particular painting is not dated but probably dates from around 1870, the year that Charles Dickens died. Dickens' image was well-known in his day with many of prints and photographs available as sources of his likeness for artists.

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812. The modest house in which he was born has miraculously survived and is now preserved as a museum furnished in the style of 1809 which is when his parents, John and Elizabeth Dickens, set up the first home of their married life there. The family stayed in the house until 1815 when John's job demanded that he return to London.


Quick Facts

  • Accession number 42/1984
  • Painted by Henry Charles Bryant
  • Medium oil painting
  • Painted in about 1870
  • Subject Charles Dickens


  • Portsmouth Museums and Records Service has several works by Bryant in the collections.
  • Charles Dickens only lived in Portsmouth for the first three years of his life but he returned to the town on three occasions. Once he returned to research background information for his novel 'Nicholas Nickleby'. On two further occasions, later in life when he was a famous writer, Dickens returned to give public readings of his work.

Did you know?

On his last visit to Portsmouth in 1866 Charles Dickens tried to find his birthplace but was unsuccessful. Today, however, it is clearly sign-posted so that visitors can find it easily!

Things to Do

Discover the area of Portsmouth where the Dickens family lived and worked by joining a Charles Dickens Guided Walk

Find out how you can become involved in the Dickens Community Archive Project A Tale of One City

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