7 Facts About Charles Dickens and His Pet Raven

By February 7, 2016 February 7th, 2019 Authors

Everything you need to know about Grip

If you know anything about the life and times of Charles Dickens (born 7th February 1812), you may be aware that the author had an unusual pet, a raven. The raven is pretty famous and appears in one of Dickens’ novels. It may be that you associate ravens more with Poe, but the two are connected. Here are some facts about Dickens and Grip, his pet raven.

In 2012 a new Raven to join the Tower of London was named after Dickens’ own bird, the third to be named after Grip. The Grip that was resident in the Tower during WWII survived a bombing attack on the Tower.
Grip had an impressive vocabulary inspiring Dickens to write him into a novel as a character. Those familiar with the author’s works will know that that novel is Barnaby Rudge.
When Dickens wrote Barnaby Rudge, he sent a copy to his contemporary and associate, Edgar Allan Poe to review. Poe responded that he liked it, but thought the raven needed a larger and more central role. He was especially drawn to a line about the raven tapping at the door. Several years later, Poe published “The Raven.”
Grip died after acquiring a taste for paint. He would tear paint from furniture and eat it, and even drink liquid paint if he could get access to it.
Dickens replaced the raven with another, and an eagle. While he found them charming and amusing, his family were not so enamoured and his children complained the birds bit their ankles.
The original Grip did stick around however as Dickens had him stuffed and mounted in his office. The raven would eventually be sold with the author’s personal effects upon his death.
Today, Grip sits in the Free Library of Philadelphia

Ravens are fascinating and intelligent birds, that will forever tie Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe together. Both authors’ works stand as timeless classics in their own way, but knowing that Poe’s Raven was actually Dickens’ Grip puts an interesting slant on things.

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