British Film Institute uncovers oldest Charles Dickens film depicting Bleak House extract

14:46 09 March 2012

The 200th anniversary of author Charles Dickens

The 200th anniversary of author Charles Dickens' birth is being celebrated

The British Film Institute has uncovered the world’s oldest surviving Dickensian film, The Death of Poor Joe, the day after the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.

The discovery was made by BFI silent film curator Bryony Dixon whose research has revealed this to be the earliest film made featuring a Dickensian character.

Until now the earliest known Dickens film was believed to be Scrooge or Marley’s Ghost (1901), currently on nationwide release from the BFI National Archive and it remains the earliest direct adaptation.

Ms Dixon was actually researching early films of China when she noticed a catalogue entry referring to a film called The Death of Poor Joe which she instantly realised could be a reference to a character in the novel Bleak House.

Archivists routinely check for any surviving copies of films they have come across as a title reference with little hope that the film actually survives as the majority of films made in this period have been destroyed.

“It’s wonderful to have discovered such a rare and unique film so close to Dickens’ bicentennial,” she said. “Not only does it survive but it is the world’s earliest Dickensian film!

“It looks beautiful and is in excellent condition. This really is the icing on the cake of our current celebration of Dickens on Screen.”

The film will be screened as a special late addition to the programme of Dickens: Pre-1914 Short Films on March 9 and 23 at BFI Southbank.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
2 3 4 5 6

Latest London news

Friday, November 27, 2015
Thousands will march for ambitious action on the climate crisis by governments internationally (Picture: PeoplesMarch)

The People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs will pass through central London on Sunday November 29 with more than 7,000 people from all around the UK. Here is a guide to the march - why it’s happening, where to go and what will be going on.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Read more

You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Read more

Latest Tech News