Dickens’ Maps Group

Project presented by Joseph Fennie, Hannah Glaser, Jacob Trost, Hannah Sugarman, and Kevin O’Connor

The maps engine group was tasked with creating a map or maps that showed information regarding Dickens and his works. We decided to create two separate maps, one focusing on Dickens’ actual life and another map that presented the important locations within the novels that we read. For the “Dickens’ Life Map” we added all important events from the time of Dickens’ birth to his death. In-between are important landmarks in his life such as his first job working for a London newspaper, the publication of his first work, and his reading tours in the United States. For the “Dickens’ Works Map” we included all the key locations in the four Dickens’ novels that we read this semester. Each location has a specific color corresponding to which novel it is from with a short description of the importance of the location to the novel.

To construct our maps we used a program called Google Maps Engine. This program allows the user to take a map of the world and pinpoint specific locations which can then be edited with text, photos, or video. The map markers can be colored so that they can be grouped together. For the Dickens’ Life Map we took information from biographies about his life and selected the most pertinent events to add to the map. We went in chronological order starting with his birth in England and traveling through his life from schooling to early work to ultimately becoming a successful writer who was able to travel to different countries. We showed the order of certain events by connecting them with a line that shows the direction in which Dickens’ life went (this can be seen in the map markers for his early life which are connected by a line showing which event occurred after the previous one). For the Dickens’ Works Map we selected the locations we found to be most important from each novel and added them to the map attributing a color to each one based on which novel it came from. For the most part, these locations are almost all around London or the surrounding area. Since most locations are visited several times we did not include lines to connect them for chronological order. We did, however, add information and sometimes photos about each location so that viewers can understand the importance of each location.

When creating the Dickens’ Works Map our group noticed a pattern that almost every important location is placed in or very near to London. We inferred three interesting things from this observation. First, although Dickens wrote about a very selective and specific location his influence was very far reaching. Secondly, the locations represent the social issues Dickens was trying to tackle during his lifetime. It shows the disparity between the lower and upper classes. The lower class characters generally reside in the center of London, the dirty, cheap areas. The upper class characters tend to reside outside of London, which represents a geographic phenomenon where one’s residency can reflect their socioeconomic status. Thirdly, a lot of locations in Dickens’ novels are important to his life. For example, one of his boyhood homes is the inspiration for the Cratchit’s home in A Christmas Carol, and the house Jarndyce from Bleak House lives in is based off of a home Dickens resided in while writing some of his novels. The creation of the maps in the Google Maps Engine allowed us to recognize the patterns that exist through the locations used in the novels and in Dickens’ life. The locations are just another manifestation of Dickens’ beliefs and personality. His criticism of society is apparent in them and his own personal attachment to them is apparent as well.

Here are the links to the two maps:

Charles Dickens’ Life Map: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zfnBjr3mVE5Q.k0BL_51fOhLk

Charles Dickens’ Works Map:https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zIFyLLnTbnU0.ka41q180cAtU


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