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London in the Time of Dickens

Trace the unique relationship between Charles Dickens and the city he called home, with a literary tour of 19th-century London.
London in the Time of Dickens is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 23.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well, I keep coming back! They are all great but the titles you requested me to review have not yet arrived.
Date published: 2024-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Just bought this and it’s the greatest, most informative lecture I’ve heard in years. The detail is awesome. The Presentation is like having a conversation with someone who lives in London and is a neighbor of Dickens.
Date published: 2024-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting even if you've not read Dickens I found this course moderately interesting. I hadn't read any Dickens for decades but you don't need to have done so. The stories about his novels and life in London at that time are interesting. Prof Nayder is ok as a lecturer -- not scintillating but not dull.
Date published: 2024-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly Engaging What a way to "paint What a way to describe London in the latter 1800's. It emphasized the wealth, poverty and life style of the population.
Date published: 2024-04-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The worst course...and I have over 120 I bought the course for the title...LONDON in the time of Dickens. The title tells me that this course is about London during the Industrial revolution, the times of growing problems, pollution, poverty, etc., with maybe a little Dickens. This course should have been called Dickens in the time of London. Too much was said about Dickens and not enough about London during that time period. Conversely, if you by this course for Dickens, you will also be disappointed as there is not enough depth about him either to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. This is just a bad course taught by a professor that does little to engage the viewer. I have over 120 courses and never left a bad review like this. I will continue to purchase courses but I hope that The Great Courses will avoid potential issues like this in the future. I know what you're thinking. Okay, yes, I could purchase The Industrial Revolution. Well, I have. But I am passionately curious and will seek other courses with a potentially different perspective. Unless you want a shallow perspective on Industrial London and Dickens, I do not recommend this course.
Date published: 2024-03-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing I wanted to like this program more than I did. Dickens is my favorite author and it is criminal that The Great Courses hardly mentions him in any of their programs. So I was very excited for this lecture series. As it turned out, it was a bit of a slog to get through. It wasn’t about Dickens – it used Dickens as a gimmick to discuss Victorian London. Now, Victorian London is also a topic I’m very interested in, but this did not make it engaging. The professor is just not dynamic or interesting. She imposes questionable perspectives on Dickens and his time. Disappointing.
Date published: 2024-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course I liked the manner in which the presentation of the material was given and the numerous visual aids which went along with it.
Date published: 2024-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully Done - I Loved Every Minute! So glad I purchased this series of lectures - what a wonderful way to learn history as well as learning about Dickens, whose work I avoided all my life. Not any longer - am currently reading David Copperfield and with a great deal more understanding than if I not taken this course! I loved the way she presented the lectures - as if she were relaxed and just talking to me. Her voice is smooth and pleasant. I have totally enjoyed learning about London in those days and I enjoyed the artwork, as well.
Date published: 2024-02-27
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In London in the Time of Dickens, you’ll get the unique opportunity to experience the British capital through the eyes of a literary master whose work is inextricably tied to the city and its rich history. Throughout 12 lectures taught by Professor Lillian Nayder of Bates College, you’ll utilize Dickens’s life and work to tour the metropolis of London in a time of rapid transformation, uncovering the history of the city, while also witnessing the everyday experiences of Londoners from all walks of life.


Lillian Nayder

Dickens's life and writings offer readers and historians alike a unique window into a unique time and place.


Bates College

Lillian Nayder is the Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Bates College. She received her PhD in English from the University of Virginia. She wrote Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Victorian Authorship and The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth. Her essays and book chapters on Dickens and other Victorian writers have appeared in dozens of journals and collections. She is a past president and trustee of the Dickens Society and served as the guest curator for an exhibit at the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

By This Professor

London in the Time of Dickens
London in the Time of Dickens


A Tale of Two Londons

01: A Tale of Two Londons

Travel back to Victorian London and explore the extreme contrasts of the city that inspired Charles Dickens’s most beloved works. Examine how Dickens uses melodrama to paint the portrait of a city divided starkly between the rich and poor and ponder what has changed over the course of 150 years and what has remained remarkably the same.

31 min
Crime and Punishment, London Style

02: Crime and Punishment, London Style

Novels like Oliver Twist show Dickens's empathy for the desperate and advocate for progressive reform, yet the novelist also had a strong authoritarian streak. As you will see in this lecture, this contradiction mirrors the debates over crime and policing that were unfolding in London at the time—and that we’re still wrangling with today.

32 min
Sexes and the City

03: Sexes and the City

The near-complete separation of public and private space was an idealized and deeply gendered division in Victorian culture. Consider the appeal of the feminized domestic space as opposed to the harsh public world, while also examining why the idyllic image of sheltered womanhood was simply not a reality for most wives and daughters in the London of Dickens's day.

32 min
Growing Up like Nell and Oliver

04: Growing Up like Nell and Oliver

Many of Dickens’s protagonists are children. See how centering his novels on such vulnerable young characters and describing the world of London through their eyes allows him to engage his readers, sway their emotions, and add force to his social critiques. Follow the adventures of young characters in such works as Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, and Our Mutual Friend.

31 min
London’s Sublime Wilderness

05: London’s Sublime Wilderness

Look back on the many ways the natural world was radically altered to suit human wishes and needs in 19th century London and consider what Dickens’s work says about the value of natural spaces in the urban sprawl. See where and how Dickens's characters find respite in nature and learn how it freed those actually living in the large and crowded city from some of its most oppressive and unhealthy effects, at least for a time.

30 min
London Fog

06: London Fog

By the 1850s, Londoners used 13 million cubic feet of gas a day and 3 million tons of coal every year. The immense population also generated about 9.5 million cubic feet of refuse daily. Through Dickens’s rich descriptive language as well as the experiences of his characters, you’ll walk the muck-laden streets and peer through the “pea soup” fogs that threatened the health and safety—both literal and spiritual—of London’s denizens.

29 min
Engineering London

07: Engineering London

Focusing on such projects as the construction of the railways and the embankment of the Thames, consider the many ways in which the Victorians sought to improve their capital city. As you’ll see, their engineering projects and their social measures radically altered London—for better and for worse.

30 min
London Past, Present, and Future

08: London Past, Present, and Future

History runs deep in London. Join Dickens as a time traveler in the city, exploring the many eras that London displays in its very stones and streets. Consider how Victorian “improvements” to the city endangered the material historical record of the city and see why history plays such a pivotal role in many of Dickens’s stories.

31 min
Pleasures and Pains

09: Pleasures and Pains

From the theaters of the West End to the gin palaces of Holborn, Victorian London offered a wide range of enjoyments and entertainment—but often at a high cost. Explore the many pleasures of the city and what Dickens represents as their dangers, as he voices the social concerns and imperial anxieties of his day.

30 min
The Heart of Empire

10: The Heart of Empire

Seen as the heart of the empire, London testified to Britain’s greatness. Yet it also revealed the empire’s vulnerability to decline and fall. Examine the growth of the British Empire and see how England’s global reach and influence made itself known in Victorian London through goods, services, people, and even food. Then, examine the ways Dickens expressed the complex anxieties of imperial power in novels such as Dombey and Son and Great Expectations.

31 min
Legal London: Expense, Anxiety, Injustice

11: Legal London: Expense, Anxiety, Injustice

Dickens centered several of his novels in “legal London”—the region of the city devoted to the legal profession and courts of law. Why did the law and its repercussions interest him so much? Examine how the law worked in Victorian London and consider how it impacted Dickens himself as the son of a debtor, a shorthand reporter, and an author seeking copyright protection.

31 min
Dickens’s Own London

12: Dickens’s Own London

Dickens’s story is one of steep upward mobility. From humble beginnings, Dickens rose to become a wealthy and renowned literary figure. Close the course with a look at the most personal element of Dickens’s London experience: his many homes over the course of his life in the city. His changing addresses speak to his childhood hardships, his ambition, and his remarkable success as a writer.

33 min