A LiveJournal friend of mine is doing a Halloween countdown, where she recommends a different creepy story or poem every day. Today's recommendation is Dickens's "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain." You can read the entire story online, at this link.
You can sponsor me, or you can choose your own charity from the official list and do your own readathon! (Remember, you don't have to start today; you can start any time during the year.) When you get your page set up, please put the link in the comment section below so we can keep track of everyone's efforts.
And don't forget, for every Dickensblog guest post that you write this year, I'll give $10 to any charity you pick from that list. (I had originally said $5, but I've since changed it to $10.) Ideas for guest posts may also be submitted in the comment section. For those of you with artistic gifts, we'll also do some graphics challenges to raise money. So get those creative juices flowing!
Happy New Year and happy reading!
Oh, and by the way: This is the 1000th post at Dickensblog.
Here's an interview with the author of Scrooge 2070: The Reboot, a new musical that will open next month in Palatine, Illinois.
The musical version of A Tale of Two Cities is currently running in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A nonmusical version recently had a run in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England; a review with very spoilery remarks and pictures is here.
Simon Callow, who has both written about and played Dickens, will play Scrooge this winter at the Arts Theatre in London. Also, in November, he will star in Dr. Marigold and Mr. Chops, based on two of Dickens's stories, at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Today is the bicentennial of Charles Dickens's older sister, Frances "Fanny" Dickens Burnett, born October 28, 1810.
During their difficult childhood, Michael Slater writes, Fanny was Charles's "dear companion and confidante." She was also a musical prodigy who began attending the Royal Academy of Music at age 13, and at 14 won their silver medal and second prize for piano. She later taught there herself. (At one point she studied with a pupil of Beethoven's.)
Although young Charles felt bitter and envious that his parents were able to scrape together enough money for Fanny's education but not for his own, he still loved her dearly. Some of his female characters, including Florence Dombey, Fanny Scrooge, and the little girl in "A Child's Dream of a Star," are said to be at least partly based on her. And her son Henry Burnett, Jr., was the model for Tiny Tim and Paul Dombey.
Fanny died of consumption at age 38. A few weeks before her death, Dickens wrote to his friend John Forster, "I asked her whether she had any care or anxiety in the world. She said No, none. It was hard to die at such a time of life, but she had no alarm whatever in the prospect of the change; felt sure we should meet again in a better world; and although they had said she might rally for a time, did not really wish it. She said she was quite calm and happy, relied upon the mediation of Christ, and had no terror at all."
Discussion question that came to mind the other day (and seemed appropriate for the approach of Halloween!):
Dickens used ghosts and spirits and supernatural happenings freely in his shorter works, most notably A Christmas Carol . . . but not in his longer works. Occasionally in the novels you get someone telling a ghost story, as in The Pickwick Papers, and you get lots of references to God and angels and demons and their activities. You even get some events that seem caused by divine judgment, like spontaneous combustion or the fall of the old Clennam house. But not ghosts.
Why do you think this might have been? Was it by accident, or design?
And a follow-up: If Dickens had written a novel with ghosts, what do you suppose it might have been like? Very different from the novels the way they are now? Or would they have been seamlessly woven into the story?