App of the Week: Streetmuseum: Dickens’ Dark London


Title: Streetmuseum: Dickens’ Dark London
Cost: Platform and first installment free; four subsequent installments $1.99 each
Platform: iOS

An enriched graphic novel, this app explodes stories drawn from Charles Dickens’Sketches by Boz: illustrative of every-day life and every-day people, to create a real sense of place from a combination of striking monochromatic art and theatrical narration.


The first installment looks at the nineteenth century slums surrounding London’s now-tony shopping area known as the Seven Dials. Faithful to the source text, the narrative describes its warren of streets and the gin shop habitues and the nuanced distinctions in dress which Victorians would have used as class signifiers. Future installments will look at the infamous Newgate Prison, gin shops, the streets, and pawnbrokers.

The app, produced by the Museum of London to coincide with the first major exhibition in the U.K. devoted to Dickens in more than 40 years, embeds rich historical details which are layered into page layout, as well as a map which enables you to toggle between contemporary and historical topographies of the city.

This iOS app is sure to appeal to teens who are celebrating the bicentennial of Dickens’ birth February 7th and graphic novel enthusiasts. It also provides a wonderfully visual explanation for teachers introducing the desuetude and debauchery of Victorian London. Some iTunes reviewers express dissatisfaction with the navigation, but the embedded instructions are helpful.

For more App of the Week posts, see the Archive.

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