National Geographic : 1974 Apr
"The blacking warehouse was a crazy tumbledown old house, abutting of course on the river, and literally overrun with rats." There he packed and labeled pots of shoe blacking. Two or three other boys performed similar duties and one of them showed him how to tie the pots with string-"His name was Bob Fagin; and I took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist." We moved on, to the Church of St. Martin in-the-Fields (where a chance meeting with Mr. Peggotty brought David Copperfield news of the search for Little Em'ly). In the streets around the church were cheap pudding shops where the boy Dickens fought off hunger by buying penny or two penny slices of pudding cake. Can phantoms sigh? "I know I do not exaggerate, unconsciously and unintentional ly, the scantiness of my resources and the dif ficulties of my life," my phantom said. "I know that if a shilling or so were given me by anyone, I spent it in a dinner or a tea. I know that I worked, from morning to night... a shabby child." The blacking factory, of course, inspired the Thameside warehouse of Murdstone and Grinby, where young David Copperfield pasted labels on wine bottles and packed them in cases.