The Rivals of Charles Dickens

Okay, the Olympics are almost over (with the Paralympics just to come) and we can all get down to some reading again. Notably absent from the opening and closing ceremonies; Charles Dickens – perhaps because he is almost as ubiquitous in London now as he was in his lifetime. This tirelessly energetic man was so […]

A City Of Darkness Part 2

A new online store of rare photographs shows London between the wars from the air, its Victorian buildings of white Portland stone blackened by sooty smoke. Perhaps that wasn’t something Dickens had in mind when he wrote about London, but there’s truth in it; the city has a side that’s disreputable and rebellious, so of […]

Dickens Turns 200: A Celebration

To celebrate the bicentennial of the Great Victorian who has inspired countless generations of writers (and made most of them inconsequential by comparison) London is hosting all kinds of Dickens events, from Christmas events at the Charles Dickens house at 48 Doughty Street to ‘Dickens and London’ at the Museum of London. This week’s Time […]

You Can Be Dickens’s Proof-Reader

Charles Dickens wrote this in a column of his weekly magazine ‘Household Words’: “I know that we English are an angular and eccentric people – a people that the great flat-iron of civilisation will take a long time smoothing all the puckers and wrinkles out of – but I was scarcely prepared for the following […]

When Classics Get Precious

Enough now. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in my lifetime Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ turned from a nice 66 page story about the spirit of Christmas into a gigantic ‘beloved classic’ industry. Worse still, it turned into a brand. Now, I love it as much as anyone else (give me […]

A Christmas Carol: Ghost Or Horror Story?

Judging by the new version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s a horror story. Once again, director Robert Zemeckis has opted for motion capture or performance capture as it now seems to be called, providing viewers with creepy Madame Tussauds-style mannequins instead of actors. The dead eyes and exaggerated features recall victorian caricatures, but the […]