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Fat-bottomed ghouls: Queen star May helps out ghostly Dickens show

Q

ueen guitarist Brian May has delved into his vast photography collection to lend some rare pictures to a ghostly new show about Charles Dickens in time for Halloween.

The rocker is a devoted collector of stereoscopic photographs — an early Victorian attempt to create 3D images — and several prized examples will go on show at the Charles Dickens Museum from Wednesday.

The pictures, which include images of the novelist at work as well as actors playing Scrooge and the ghosts from A Christmas Carol, are printed on stereo cards and create a 3D effect when seen through a special viewer.

Brian May

Denis Pellerin, from the Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy, said the images were “a true forerunner of virtual reality”.

He said: “Readers have been so captured by Dickens’s stories and characters that they have been adapting and reproducing them in film and television for many decades. The stereoscopic images on display here are another example of that initial fascination leading to artistic invention — in this case Victorian photographers combining a love of Dickens’s work with excitement at a new photographic medium to create the shining images that you will see.”

The exhibition, called To Be Read At Dusk: Dickens, Ghosts & the Supernatural, reflects the novelist’s fascination with ghost stories and includes his own copy of his 1848 story The Haunted Man as well as a letter from 1859 asking a friend to recommend a haunted house to visit.

Curator Emily Dunbar said: “Dickens spent his whole writing life surrounding himself with ghosts. We believe he was a fascinated sceptic with a powerful talent for creating stories and images that resonated with, and entertained, people.

“Dickens’s own feelings about the supernatural probably followed Scrooge’s, considering ghosts to be ‘more gravy than grave’, but he recognised the power ghostly tales could wield and hugely enjoyed writing and performing them.”

Until March 5 at the museum in Doughty Street, Holborn.

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