An 1837 letter from Dickens to John Forster, presenting him with an "extra super bound" copy of The Pickwick Papers, will be auctioned off on Friday. The Daily Mail has the details and a very good photo of the letter.
Ian Rons of Cobham, not far from Gad's Hill Place, has won a strand of Dickens's hair. The hair, which was raffled off to raise money to help preserve Dickens's Swiss chalet, will be displayed at the Leather Bottle pub, which appears in The Pickwick Papers.
In 1837, Edward Caswall, using the same publisher and illustrator as the highly successful young Charles Dickens, had a hit with the satirical essay collection Sketches of Young Ladies, describing varying types of ladies: The Romantic Young Lady, The Mysterious Young Lady, The Matter-of-Fact Young Lady, and so forth. Six months later -- as if he weren't busy enough simultaneously writing The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist -- Dickens published an anonymous sequel to this volume, titled Sketches of Young Gentlemen. Two years later he followed it up with Sketches of Young Couples. All three volumes are offered here, with "Phiz's" original illustrations. Caswall's contribution is quite funny, but Dickens, as you might expect, digs more deeply into his characters (giving them names, expanding their amount of dialogue, and so forth) and so extracts even more amusement from them. As Paul Schlicke observes in his introduction, "The contrasts between Caswall's work and Dickens's highlight the ability of Boz to evoke the distinctiveness of a character in a few swift strokes."
ReadingEagle.com reports on the North Carolina Dickens Fellowship reading competition, focusing on high school junior Morgan Kauffman, who was a finalist with her reading from The Pickwick Papers. Morgan hopes to be able to perform at a Dickens festival in London this December. Best wishes to her!
Naxos is releasing all 16 of Dickens's major novels as audiobooks, in both abridged and unabridged versions, for the bicentennial. Visit their page for more information and to download their Dickens podcasts. And The Dabbler blog is exclusively serializing their abridged version of The Pickwick Papers.
Actor Stephen Fry gave away free copies of A Tale of Two Cities on the set of his new film for World Book Night, earlier this week.
Speaking of free books, the library system in Sheffield, England, is giving away 1500 free copies of Oliver Twist in honor of the bicentennial. Very nice, but since it's Sheffield, shouldn't it be David Copperfield instead? (You know, "Confusion to Brooks of Sheffield!")
And speaking of Oliver Twist, Robin Stone of the Globe and Mail tells a terrific story about how she got both herself and her nine-year-old son hooked on the children's edition of that book. Kudos to both of them!
Rabbit Run Theater in Madison, Ohio, is going to be doing three different Dickens plays this summer and fall, and the nearby Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is offering special packages that include overnight stays and tickets to see the performances. Read all about it here.
Filming has started on The Invisible Woman. Can't say I'm too thrilled about seeing Dickens get the National Enquirer treatment, which is what I'm afraid this is going to be. In other movie news, the new independent film Nancy, Please tells the story of a graduate student who gets into a violent conflict with his old roommate over, of all things, a copy of Little Dorrit. Here's an interview with the director.