February 7, 2012

Happy birthday Charles Dickens: World-wide celebration begins


Library at the Charles Dickens Museum in London

Despite the fact that some people believe Charles Dickens can not be read or appreciated by today’s gadget-addled callow youth (see Ellie Robin‘s Mobylives article), the rest of us are celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth — born on this day, February 7th, in 1812. A world-wide Dickens’ birthday celebration is upon us, and it is a doozie, as Reuters reports:

On February 7, the British Council will stage a global “read-a-thon” with 24 readings from 24 Dickens texts in 24 hours, starting in Australia and taking in countries including Iraq, China and Pakistan.

Ongoing events coinciding with the anniversary include exhibitions in Zurich, New York and across Britain, theatrical performances by professional actors and schoolchildren alike and an online tribute from bloggers in Spain.

The celebrations planned on the Dickens home front are impressive, with the Royals themselves being pressed into service:

Britain’s heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles will visit the Charles Dickens Museum in London where the author lived between 1837 and 1839 and wrote “Oliver Twist” and “Nicholas Nickleby.”

The prince will go on to Westminster Abbey to attend a ceremony and lay a wreath on Dickens’ grave, the centrepiece of the February 7 anniversary events that spread from Australia to Argentina, and Iraq to Russia.

The Abbey event also marks the largest gathering of the novelist’s descendants, with over 200 family members attending including his great-great grandson Mark Dickens.

“This bicentenary should help renew our commitment to improving the lot of the disadvantaged of our own day,” said the Dean of Westminster, John Hall.

Prince Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth, attends a performance of extracts from Dickens’ works on February 14 before hosting a reception at her London residence.

The Queen’s reception is said to be hosting the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and the Dickens’ biographer Claire Tomalin.

For the full roster of global celebrations go to the Dickens’ festivities website: Dickens 2012

Happy Birthday, Charles! Not only are you still being read, you’re being feted!


Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.