Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday Celebrated in Philadelphia

Jon Harris - Author

Jun. 16 2013, Updated 12:19 a.m. ET

Philadelphia public library and many book groups around the world are preparing to celebrate the 200th birthday of famous British author Charles Dickens, who was born on February 7, 1812. They boasts an impressive collection of Dickens collectibles, including his stuffed pet, Grip, sketches for ‘Oliver Twist’, first published installments of ‘Hard Times’ and a handwritten letter to his publisher about Little Nell, the actress Nelly Ternan with whom Charles Dickens fell in love with. The Philadelphia public library also has 1200 intriguing letters, from two major Dickens collections.

In a statement, librarian Siobhan Reardon said:

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“(It was) the ideal opportunity to share our literary treasures with the community and celebrate the fact that Dickens’ clever characters and engaging plotlines transcend time and are as relevant today as they were when he created them.”

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Charles Dickens visited Philadelphia twice and it’s difficult to image the kind of status he held in those days. For example, when he first visited in 1842 he received a welcome The Beatles would’ve been proud of, whereas in 1868 people were camped out for his sold-out readings. John O. Jordan, who directs the Dickens Project at the University of California at Santa Cruz, talks about the importance of Dickens today:

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“Dickens writes about important social issues that are still nagging at us today — poverty, inequality in wealth, the abuse of children, issues of social class, aspiration to move beyond the station into which you were born, and the problems that arise from that.”

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Visitors to the Philadelphia public library can marvel at Charles Dickens’ pet raven, Grip, which also inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write ‘The Raven’. They can also see the desk where Dickens was writing his last, unfinished, book ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


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