Charles Dickens Museum opens new display, which will encourage visitors to follow in the author’s footsteps around the nearby sites that inspired the novel
When Charles Dickens was writing Oliver Twist in 1837, he required a suitably horrible magistrate to preside over Oliver’s trial for pick-pocketing. Dickens knew exactly who to base the character on: a notorious Mr Laing, who worked in Hatton Garden, down the road from the author’s London home on Doughty Street.
Dickens asked an acquaintance to “smuggle” him into Laing’s offices. The man would go on to appear in the novel, thinly disguised as the dreadful Mr Fang, a man of “flushed face” who, “if he were really not in the habit of drinking rather more than was exactly good for him, he might have brought action against his countenance for libel, and have recovered heavy damages”.