Forty years ago, Monica Dickens, great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, founded the first U.S. branch of the Samaritans, an organization that provides emotional support to those in distress. Monica's daughter Prudence Stratton attended their "Breakfast for Hope" benefit that marked the anniversary.
In an Independent article about four descendants of famous Britons, 21-year-old drama student Ollie Dickens is one of those featured. He gives a delightful interview about what it was like to discover the significance of his heritage ("it hadn't been blown out of proportion, he really did know how to write"); his love for A Christmas Carol; and how he likes to think that he (like his relatives Harry Lloyd and Gerald Dickens) inherited some of his ancestor's acting genes.
I just had to add this one from the Daily Mail, captioned "Three of Charles Dickens['s] great great great grandchildren, siblings Tom Dickens 15, Lydia Dickens 14 and Oliver Dickens 9 take a selfie with their ancestor's new statue in Portsmouth today."
(Image copyright Matt Scott-Joynt/M and Y News Agency Ltd)
There was much celebrating in Portsmouth today, as the city's favorite son finally had his new statue, by Martin Jennings, unveiled on his birthday! Members of the Dickens family and the Dickens Fellowship were on hand for the festivities, along with actors Edward Fox and Joanna David. BBC News has the story and some great photos, including a lovely one of the writer's great-great-great-grandon, Oliver (yes, Oliver!) sitting on his lap.
Gerald Dickens is participating in what sounds like a delightful project: a play about the writing of The Life of Our Lord. Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess) is the writer, and Dr. Gary Colledge, writer of God and Charles Dickensand a friend of this blog, is serving as a consultant.
A staged reading was recently done at The Kilns, home of C. S. Lewis (which is extra delightful to me, since I love Lewis as much as I love Dickens!). Gerald Dickens reports on the project on his blog. I truly hope one day I get to see this.
Okay, that's a harsh and unfair generalization. But it got your attention, right?
And that's precisely what I really hate: a certain attention-grabbing mentality that's popular among the media. For instance, when they have a story about a new book on Francis Dickens, Charles Dickens's son who went to Canada. Most of them figure that they can't just say "there's a new book about Francis Dickens"; that's not sensationalistic enough. That won't get hits.
So they say things like "Charles Dickens wasn't a great father" and "Charles Dickens was one of England's most-respected writers during the 19th century, but he wasn't much of a father." Because, again, it wouldn't be sensationalistic enough to say "Charles Dickens was a very flawed but very loving father," which would be much closer to the truth. Or even "Charles Dickens had high expectations of his children, but that's not necessarily a bad thing." That would be way too much nuance and complexity.
So I guess the moral of the story is, if you're famous enough to be written about two centuries from now, don't dare have any expectations of your children, or the press will have to haul you over the coals for it. And pun on the titles of your books as they do it.