NPR

A Twist On Charles Dickens: He Was A Public Health Pioneer Too

A new museum exhibit in London reveals a hidden side of the literary great. It turns out he was prolific not just as a novelist, but also as a promoter of public health and medical discoveries.

In London, there's a museum dedicated to Charles Dickens, housed in his old, lovingly preserved home near the King's Cross rail station. There are over 200 museums in London. This one wasn't anywhere near the top of my list.

I hated the compulsory Dickens assignments in high school. To teenage me, slogging through the unremitting hopelessness of Great Expectations was absolutely agonizing. Bleak House? I couldn't get past the name. And as for the 743 pages of The Pickwick Papers? I was so traumatized by the other novels that I skipped the book and went straight to a study guide.

No Dickens Museum for me!

But in May it opened an exhibit called (The exhibit runs through November 11.) The idea that Dickens was interested in science was surprising enough that I figured I'd give the exhibit a chance. And I learned

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