In a warm and winsome (and spoilery) article at The Smart Set, Colin Fleming argues that "The Signal-Man" makes an even better Christmas story than A Christmas Carol:
". . . It’s like Dickens had one over on the ghost story medium, and created a tale that, because of the evident connection between these characters, offers more hope, in its way, than the Carol does. I think so, anyway, because of that element of a burgeoning friendship in a time and place in life — especially the signal-man’s — where one does not expect to find it. Very Christmas-y. Strip the emotional realism away . . . and you have the makings of a Hallmark Christmas movie. But it’s also a story for those who struggle at this time of year, those seeking a place to partake in the season and not be left entirely behind, while not having to give themselves over to the joy you think everyone else has, that maybe you never have, or never will again."
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."