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.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

One male suspect has also died, with Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers hailed for helping to stop the attacker reaching MPs.

Read more

Lindsay Booth said The Apprentice taught her to put more emphasis on life than business.

Read more

Tina Fey and Jason Bateman star as brother and sister, who return home after the death of their father in This Is Where I Leave You.

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

One male suspect has also died, with Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers hailed for helping to stop the attacker reaching MPs.

Most of downtown Ottawa is in lockdown, say police.

A gunman has shot a Canadian soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, then entered parliament and shots rang out, according to reports. People fled the building by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, witnesses told the Canadian Press news agency. The top spokesman for Stephen Harper said the prime minister was […]

From birds and insects to a frog, iguana and lions: the beautiful shots of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year exhibition.

Quirky London