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Best Literature & Music in London

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Charles Dickens' novels famously chronicled the lives and dramas of 19th century London in the throes of the industrial revolution, and his portrayal of slums and workhouses drew on his own family's experiences of poverty and debt. However, The Charles Dickens Museum is anything but bleak, unlike the lives of his characters. The drawing room of the Dickens' House where he held literary salons has been lovingly restored, and elsewhere you can view all manner of Dickens paraphernalia including personal letters and notes as well as manuscripts and first editions of his books.

Established in 1896 soon after the writer's death, Carlyle's House is one of the oldest literary museums in London, so the original decor and furnishings as well as many personal items have been preserved. The Scottish-born historian Thomas Carlyle, who is best known for his history of the French Revolution, moved to this typical tall and thin townhouse in the early part of the Victorian era when Chelsea was still largely undeveloped and unfashionable. Carlyle wrote his monumental tomes in the attic, which he had soundproofed against the noise of his neighbors. He and his wife lived a life full of anecdote and incident and there is much here to enjoy for those with an interest in literary history as well as those with an enthusiasm for Victorian interiors.

The Keats House Museum is the London home of one of the last Romantic poets, John Keats. This museum is a popular stop on the poetry lover's itinerary. The house serves as a memorial, museum, library and a meeting point for aspiring poets and writers. Highlights in the collection include Keat's engagement ring as well as his death mask, which was a popular tradition at the time. If you are familiar with the poet's work, then the museum is guaranteed to move you.

Dr Samuel Johnson, the compiler of the first ever dictionary of the English language, lived here from 1748 to 1759. Opened to the public for the first time in 1912, and having survived several near misses during the Blitz, Dr Johnson's House has been restored to its original condition, including paneled rooms, a pine staircase and a collection of period furniture, prints and portraits. The house is nestled in a maze of courtyards and passages that are reminiscent of historic London.

This building was not always blessed with the famous address of the world's most celebrated detective, its number was changed to 221b in honor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. The rest of the museum is also very true to the fiction. You can sit in Holmes' armchair, fiddle with his scientific experiments, and examine memorabilia from his adventures. Dedicated entirely to Holmes, his fans will enjoy their money's worth.

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