Dickens’s 200th birthday celebrated around the world and on the web

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

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…

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Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Events will take place around the country to mark the bicentenary, including a street party in the city of Portsmouth, on the southeast English coast, where he was born on February 7, 1812.

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and actor Ralph Fiennes will be among guests at the laying of a wreath at Westminster Abbey in London to mark the occasion.

Dickens’ books remain cornerstones of English literature and the latest film version of one of his greatest novels, Great Expectations, starring Fiennes and Helena Bonham-Carter, is currently in production.

Claire Romalin, a leading biographer of the author, says there is no one to compare with Dickens today.

“He had extraordinary energy and he was extraordinarily hard-working. His first three novels – The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby – came out in monthly instalments,” she said. Continue Reading…