Charles Dickens, born February 7th, 1812, was an English novelist many of us will recall reading at some point in our high school or college years, and his work continues to inspire generations of writers and readers alike. Known for his ability to adeptly capture the everyday man in writing, he wrote numerous novels that were relatable for his readers and remain so centuries later. Some of these works include Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and A Tale of Two Cities. His writing also became a symbol for life in the Victorian era as he enjoyed writing vivid descriptions of daily English life, not only for his novels but for his journalistic work as well when he campaigned for better conditions for the working poor. A man of many ambitions, Dickens died from a stroke in 1870, but his works continue to influence contemporary literature, art, film, academia, and much more.
Now, it only seems fitting that we help him celebrate what would have been his 200th birthday on February 7th, 2012 in a Dickensian fashion. Where to begin? Here’s how I’d start.
5. Relive your favorite Dickens scenes with your own “Night of Dickens,” featuring some of the acclaimed film and television adaptations of Dickens novels. Don’t know where to begin? James Lachno of The Telegraph provides an excellent lineup in his recent article, “Great Charles Dickens Adaptations.”
4. Visit the Morgan Library’s upcoming exhibition, Dickens at 200 to find out what inspired the timeless writings as you follow Dickens’ creative process through manuscript pages, letters, early illustrations, and playbills. The exhibit opens September 23 and runs through February 12, 2012.
Address: 225 Madison Ave at 36th St. New York, NY 10016
For more info, visit www.themorgan.org
3. Wine and dine in true Dickensian fashion when you host your own “Dickens Dinner,” complete with mincemeat pie and Wassail punch just as Charles Dickens (and his characters) would have had it. Invite a bunch of friends and spend the night merrily celebrating Dickens’ legacy with tableside trivia about his novels. If you’re stumped for a dinner menu, the Food Channel serves up “A Dickens of a Dinner” for some inspiration.
2. Get active and attend the Riverside Dickens Festival on January 7 and 8, two days of Dickens themed activities for Dickens fans of all ages. Battle demonstrations, Victorian dance lessons, educational workshops, musical performances, and staged plays will be featured. A Christmas Carol is the featured title this year so actors will portray your cast of characters (Scrooge, Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, & Future, etc.) during the festival.
Festival Address: 3443 Orange St. Riverside, CA 92501
For more info, visit www.dickensfest.com or call 951-781-3168.
And after all these festivities, what better way to end a year of celebration than to settle down with a good read…
1. We’re honoring Mr. Dickens’ legacy in the way we know best— providing you with the full picture of Charles Dickens’ versatility. Charles Dickens in Context (on sale now) illuminates the many roles Dickens occupied in his lifetime, including novelist, social reformer, journalist, and more. Written by leading scholars in each aspect of Dickens’ life, you will gain a complete view of Dickens during the 19th century and how he has influenced writers and readers up to present day.
Nancy Chen is the publicity and rights & permissions intern for Cambridge University Press’ College Sales and Marketing group.