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Charles Dickens monument planned for Borough

A Charles Dickens memorial is planned for Southwark as a contribution to the Dickens 2012 celebrations.

Tabard Street piazza
The new Tabard Street piazza is likely to be the setting for a new permanent public monument to celebrate Charles Dickens' close links to Southwark

The announcement was made at BFI Southbank on Tuesday evening during the launch of the logo for next year's 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth.

'A new monument for London in the London Borough of Southwark' was flashed up on the cinema screen as Dr Florian Schweizer, Charles Dickens Museum curator, revealed that the preferred location is the new piazza which lies "between the old Marshalsea Prison site and the Little Dorrit Church".

A committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Southwark architect Tim Wood with representatives from local organisations including Southwark Council, Bankside Open Spaces Trust, Southwark Living Streets and St George in Southwark Festival.

It is understood that the sculpture may represent a character from one of the novels rather than the author who was known to be unhappy at the idea a posthumous depiction of himself. There are hopes that Southwark-based artists will enter a competition.

The judges will be looking for work that is "inspiring and joyful" with a "relevance to children as well as those who know and love Dickens' works".

The chosen design is to be revealed on Dickens' 200th birthday in February next year with the intention of the work being a lasting legacy of Dickens 2012.

St George the Martyr Church, the Little Dorrit Church, has the image of the young girl in stained glass. Dickens, who lived in nearby Lant Street, knew the church and the prison on the John Harvard Library site.

The announcement was made in the presence of Charles Dickens' great great grandson, actor and storyteller Gerald Dickens, who said: "It's astounding that wherever I go there is this passion still for Charles Dickens, a passion for his stories, a passion for his characters, a passion for the messages he got across when he was writing his novels.

"And it's that which we in the family are so excited that this year of celebration and beyond is going to capture."

A 'Dickens on Film' festival is to be staged at BFI Southbank from January to March 2012.

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