Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012: The Year of Dickens

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

Over the last few years, there have been numerous milestones in literary history. In 2008 we celebrated the 100th birthday of L. M. Montgomery's famous work Anne of Green Gables. Last year marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility. But all of those pale in comparison to the party that the world (and London in particular) has planned for this year.

February 7, 2012 is the 200th birthday of one of English literature's most beloved novelists, Charles Dickens. There are tons of events, special exhibitions, and other things being planned worldwide to mark this milestone. The website Dickens 2012 has this to say about the author and the planned celebrations: Although a writer from the Victorian era, Dickens’s work transcends his time, language and culture. He remains a massive contemporary influence throughout the world and his writings continue to inspire film, TV, art, literature, artists and academia. Dickens 2012 sees a rich and diverse programme of events taking place in the run up and throughout the whole of 2012.

Here are some of the amazing things happening this year that you can participate in:

-London is definitely the place to be this year if you are a Dickens lover. The Charles Dickens Museum has re-opened to the public, and is the place to view over 100,000 manuscripts, rare editions, and personal items from Dickens' world. The Museum of London has a new exhibition dedicated to Dickens' legacy in London. On Feb. 7th, Westminster Abbey will hold a wreath laying ceremony at his tomb. Many portraits of the Dickens family will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery. And Dickens centered walking tours will let you see the great city through his eyes. However you like to commemorate this special occasion, London can help you do it.

-England is not the only place to party. The Museum Strauhof in Zurich which specializes in literary history will have a special exhibit dedicated to Dickens. The Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts will highlight Dickens' friendship with the American poet. And a Dickens Book Festival is on the schedule at Château D’Hardelot, Pas-de-Calais in France.

-Even if you don't live where a major festival or exhibit is planned, there are plenty of ways to celebrate on your own. Masterpiece Classic will be airing two new Dickens adaptations this year: Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Two new biographies of the author were published in time for the festivities: Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin and Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. And international publishers Wiley-Blackwell have announced a free online conference entitled "Dickens' World" will be held March 7-March 8.

-Get others involved in the fun. If you are in a book club, try reading and discussing a Dickens novel. If you are a patron of a local bookshop, encourage them to get involved by inviting guest speakers and hosting read alouds. If you are involved in community theater, consider bringing a Dickens classic to life. And if you are a teacher, introduce your students to Dickens' world.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, just be sure to take some time this year to commemorate one of the best writers in the English language. His creations continue to haunt, amuse, and inspire us to this day. Mr. Dickens, we are truly in your debt.

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

Great post. I just listened to Christmas Carol and was once again reminded what a great writer Dickens was. I'll look forward to the BBC productions.