Where the Dickens? 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens 200th birthday anniversary  was celebrated in 2012 but the great man continues to make headlines in mainstream and social media.

This week, it was a story about his public readings that attracted my attention when I spotted a link on Twitter to a blog post “Five Fascinating Facts about Charles Dickens” .

Among the facts covered in the blog is some information on how Dickens prepared for his public readings. Apparently, he would breakfast on two tablespoons of rum with fresh cream for breakfast and then half an hour before the start of the reading would imbibe a type of eggnog made by whipping an egg into a tumbler of sherry.

By Jeremiah Gurney (Heritage Auction Gallery) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADickens_Gurney_head.jpg
Image: By Jeremiah Gurney (Heritage Auction Gallery) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADickens_Gurney_head.jpg
His readings were covered by the media of his day and reports were carried far and wide. I was surprised to find a report of his last public reading in The Gorey Correspondent, a 19th century local newspaper from County Wexford in Ireland, which, in the edition of Saturday 19 March 1870, noted:

“The announcement that Mr Charles Dickens would give his last reading on Tuesday brought an immense audience to St James Hall. “The Christmas Carol” and the “Trial from Pickwick” were the pieces selected, and they were read with Mr Dickens’ accustomed pathos and humour”

Mr Dickens is reported to have concluded his last public appearance by saying: “from these garish lights I vanish now for evermore, with one heartfelt, grateful, respectful and affectionate farewell”.

I wonder what he would make of it if he knew how his stories continue to hold their own so many years after their first publication.

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” –  To my mind, A Tale of Two Cities is the best of Dickens. Well, perhaps not – but it is without doubt my favourite Dickens novel.  Paris, the guillotine, the knitting, the excitement, the drama. It is not a mawkish as Little Nell nor as long, complex and winding as Bleak House.  If you only have the time and inclination to read one Dickens novel, I suggest you make it this one.