Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Charles

Yesterday was the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens.

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I credit Dickens, via the agency of my mother, for my lifelong love of literature, 
my excellent university results (yes, I'm boasting, but I'm allowed to be proud), and 
my career as an English teacher. 

You see, when I was very small, my mother, like many before and since, read me bedtime stories. What did she read? Dickens. Not Enid Blyton, not Noddy and Big Ears - no, it was Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol ... She said she didn't see any point 
in reading me what she called "kiddie rubbish"!

As part of my undergraduate degree I did a paper in Victorian Literature - hated most of it, except the Dickens. I don't read him now; I read widely but most often choose fantasy/sci-fi. But what a master of characterisation he was; I have always been instantly able to conjure up a mental picture of Uriah Heep, Bill Sykes or Miss Havisham.

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What a superstar! he was the first media celebrity, witing his serials in the newspaper; each episode ended with a cliffhanger, to keep readers hanging out for the next one. Today, he'd be writing Coronation Street.

I liked Google's birthday doodle yesterday - if you didn't see it, here it is:

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"I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!" 
(from Bleak House)


  1. It's so funny, I would have completely forgotten his birthday had I not been reminded by google today! Ha ha! I also posted a photo of him on my Facebook page.... with this quote, that I'm going to share with you since you are also a huge fan of his! "Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true!" Must have a toast on him with dinner this evening! Imagine200 glowing candles on one cake...if we were so lucky right! LOL

  2. Great story, I was completely unaware that it was his birthday. Happy Birthday Charles!
    Loved both your and Karen's quote. Incredibly fitting for this day and age.

  3. Karen - great quote! thanks :)

    Max - you went a whole day without using Google? :)

  4. You are right, his characterisation is superb, but I was never a Dickens fan. Jane Austen yes, Dickens not so much.

  5. i had no idea!! thanks for the reminder! well, Happy Belated TWO HUNDREDTH Charles!!

    i have that same butterfly quote in my enormous quote list! and thanks to karen for another!

  6. Great story. And I loved the last post, too.


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