As I mentioned earlier, today marks the 150th anniversary of the Staplehurst Rail Crash and the 145th anniversary of Dickens's death. In honor of this dual anniversary, I shall let Dickens speak for himself on both subjects (from his postscript to Our Mutual Friend):
"On Friday the ninth of June in the present year Mr. and Mrs. Boffin (in their manuscript dress of receiving Mr. and Mrs. Lammle at breakfast) were on the South Eastern Railway with me, in a terribly destructive accident. When I had done what I could to help others, I climbed back into my carriage -- nearly turned over a viaduct, and caught aslant upon the turn -- to extricate the worthy couple. They were much soiled, but otherwise unhurt. The same happy result attended Miss Bella Wilfer on her wedding-day, and Mr. Riderhood inspecting Bradley Headstone's red neckerchief as he lay asleep. I remember with devout thankfulness that I can never be much nearer parting company with my readers for ever, than I was then, until there shall be written against my life the two words with which I have this day closed this book -- THE END."
The Dickens Museum has received a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to buy the desk and chair where Dickens wrote his final three books, for permanent display at the museum. The Guardian,BBC News, and Fine Books & Collections have the story.
In Variety, Tony Jordan says that they're having trouble finding studio space for the show and that it may have to shoot in Eastern Europe, though he acknowledges, "It just doesn't feel quite right. It should be in the U.K." The piece also mentions some of the buildings and characters that are going to appear on the show.
Novelist and Dickens biographer Jane Smiley has a marvelous article in The Atlantic, in which she talks about one particular sentence in Our Mutual Friend and how it represents to her some of the best aspects of the art of novel writing.
Congratulations to Kenia Coyoy and Karen Molina, high school students from Los Angeles who won trips to Dickens Universe with their essays on Our Mutual Friend! They're the first students from their school district to win the essay contest, and this fall, each will be the first member of their respective families to go to college. Says Karen, "I hope people see that Hispanic children from South L.A. can not only read Dickens but relate to it and become one with the literature."
Here's a fun tidbit from the London Particular (the Dickens Fellowship Newsletter), submitted by Dr. Christine Corton: An episode of the British TV series Endeavour, titled "Neverland,"showed Morse, the main character, entering a firm of solicitors called "Vholes, Jaggers and Lightwood." Looks like they've got a Dickensian on the writing staff!
"If you're a horse and you're going to be named after a Charles Dickens character, chances are you're going to be named after a notorious villain," speculates Ben Linfoot at SportingLife.com. Linfoot is writing about a horse named Uriah Heep, so I can see why he might think that. But I think Tommy Traddles would make a nice horse's name as well. Or Jenny Wren. Or Newman Noggs . . .
If you're on Twitter, you might enjoy subscribing to Our Mutual Feed! Here's the scoop on how it started, and how you can become a participant. This started a while back, but they might still have one or two characters left for people to take on. This is based on a Dickens novel, after all.