A 24-hour global “readathon”, celebrations in two British cities and a special Google Doodle were among the highlights of the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth on Tuesday.
For the readathon, organised by the British Council, 24 countries hosted consecutive readings of Dickens novels. Starting in Australia with an extract from Dombey and Son, it was due to hit the UK at 9pm, where the author David Nicholls was planning to read from Great Expectations at the British Film Institute.
In Portsmouth, where Dickens was born, a day that actor Simon Callow warned would be “a dangerously moving occasion” started with the laying of a wreath outside the author’s birthplace by Ian Dickens, his great great grandson, then continued with a service at St Mary’s church which included readings by Callow and Sheila Hancock from David Copperfield and Oliver Twist.
In London, festivities began at his old house in Doughty Street, now the Dickens Museum, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were treated to a private reading of his work by Gillian Anderson, who played Miss Havisham in a BBC adaptation of Great Expectations.
The house, where Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were written, recently raised eyebrows by announcing that it would close for a £3.1m refurbishment from April, despite the potential boost in visitors that Dickens’s bicentenary and the Olympics would be expected to bring. Continue Reading…