Great expectations: Dickens events on the way
Two years ago it was Charles Darwin. Last year it was the King James Bible. In 2012, everyone’s talking about Charles Dickens - who was born 200 years ago.
The University has a number of Dickens experts in our School of English and Victorian Studies Centre, not to mention a plethora of early Dickens editions in our Library Special Collections, so we are naturally involved in a range of celebratory events to mark Dickens 2012.
Next month sees an extraordinary ‘travelling conference’ in which a fezziwig* of Dickensian scholars and enthusiasts will visit four places of significance to the author: two days in Paris, two days just outside Boulogne, a quick Eurostar across to Chatham and then to London for Dickens’ 200th birthday on Tuesday 7 February and the final day of the conference on the Wednesday. Naturally this event is called A Tale of Four Cities.
Our own Dr Holly Furneaux, author of the acclaimed book Queer Dickens, will be among those attending and has organised, in collaboration with the Charles Dickens Museum, that final day which will explore ‘The Global Meaning of Dickens and “Dickensian” Today.’
While the conference is in Chatham, Holly will have to make her excuses and scoot up to London early for the UK press launch of the Sterling Signature edition of John Forster’s definitive biography The Life of Dickens. Forster (who was also born 200 years ago) knew Dickens well and wrote his three volume biography within a few years of the subject’s death. Holly has edited this magnificent new edition which is an abridged, illustrated version of the original book.
Looking further ahead, in March our Victorian Studies Centre teams up with the University of Buckingham for a four-day conference on Charles Dickens and the mid-Victorian Press (1850-1870) celebrating the completion and launch of Dickens Journals Online, a digitised library of the hugely popular weekly magazines which Dickens edited (see previous Newsblog story). Holly, Joanne Shattock and Gail Marshall are all speaking at this event.
There are further Dickensian events planned throughout the year, including the annual Dickens Day in October which the University of Leicester has helped to organise for the past six years, and of course our own Literary Leicester festival of the written word on November. We shall make details of these available as soon as they are confirmed.
A dedicated Dickens microsite will be going live on the School of English website soon.
*This is the correct collective noun, and you can’t prove it isn’t.