University of South Carolina

Charles Dickens exhibit at Hollings Library
Charles Dickens exhibit at Hollings Library

Dickens exhibit opens at Hollings Library

By Megan Sexton,, 803-777-1421

Charles Dickens – the English novelist, journalist, editor, public speaker and international celebrity of the mid-19th century – was known for lighting up any room he entered.

That brilliance still shines at the University of South Carolina Libraries, where an exhibit drawn from its extensive collection of Dickens’ work is on display at the Hollings Library.

“ ‘A Sort of Brilliance in the Room’: Two Centuries of Charles Dickens” commemorates the bicentennial of Dickens’ birth, and shows off the works of a man whose name is synonymous with Victorian London and mid-19th century British culture. The exhibit runs through January.

“It’s truly remarkable that he was able to do so much in all areas. Dickens had a huge output over 40 years. That’s what we’re trying to convey in the exhibit,” said Jeffrey Makala, USC librarian for outreach and instruction. Makala curated the exhibit with his wife, Melissa Makala, who specializes in 19th and early 20th century British literature and teaches at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

The exhibit features work from throughout Dickens’ career, beginning with the lighthearted, comic pieces of the 1830s, such as “Sketches by Boz” and “The Pickwick Papers,” to first editions of his famous works including “Oliver Twist,” “Great Expectations” and “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens created scenes and characters that live on in the world’s literary memory – characters such as Scrooge, Mr. Pickwick, Uriah Heep and Fagin.

“Once you look at everything and see everything he wrote, you realize that we have it all. We knew the USC Libraries’ collection was good, but it takes the act of putting it together to realize how good it really is,” Jeffrey Makala said. “It’s one of the best collections in the country.”

The exhibit was drawn from the extensive 19th-century British literary collections in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Many of those holdings were purchased from a collector in the 1960s. Other pieces came from USC debating societies in existence before the Civil War and from other sources.

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Posted: 11/08/12 @ 2:00 PM | Updated: 11/12/12 @ 10:53 AM | Permalink

Charles Dickens exhibit

  • What:“'A Sort of Brilliance in the Room': Two Centuries of Charles Dickens”
  • Where: The Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library. The Hollings Library is accessible through Thomas Cooper Library, 1322 Greene St., on the USC campus.
  • When: Through January



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