The Tale of A Tale of Two Cities
4 Extra Debut. At the Victoria and Albert Museum, Frances Fyfield explores the frantic manuscript of Charles Dickens's thriller. From December 2011.
Crime novelist Frances Fyfield takes us into the heart of Dickens' creative process: his handwritten manuscripts.
When Dickens wrote 'A Tale of Two Cities' in 1859 it was, for him at least, both the best of times and the worst of times.
He'd separated from his wife, started a new weekly journal and was becoming more and more familiar as a performer of his own works.
But the process of creation for his new novel was the same as ever.
A tightly written manuscript on individual leaves was whisked off to the printers, proof-read and edited by the author and then made available, instalment by instalment, to a loyal public.
Frances Fyfield has been given access to that manuscript, held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and along with the scholar Robert Patten and actor David Timson, she explores the frantic handwriting, the ferocious self-editing and the sheer energy of Dickens' original pages.
And she also visits a print museum to get an idea of just what a challenge it was, turning these pages into print against the deadlines Dickens had set himself.
Producer: Tom Alban.