Feature: Charles Dickens: Pop Star


Dickens circa. 1960s

This Sunday marks the 152nd anniversary of Charles Dickens first visit to the United State, to read before a packed audience at Boston’s Tremont Temple. In a gushing story at the time, the New York Times reported that the hall was filled “by perhaps one of the most appreciative, fashionable, and brilliant audiences ever assembled in New England.” These days that kind of language is largely reserved for the peacock parade that is the annual Met Ball, or the Oscars red carpet. Try to imagine such a dandy crowd taking even a moment out of their self-absorption to listen, as they did in the Tremont Temple, to a recital of The Pickwick Papers (unless that person was Hugh Dancy, who chose the book for his bookshelf). Yet in 1867, such was the fervor for Dickens that police were drafted in to prevent, as the Times put it, “any confusion or disturbance attendant upon the grand rush into the hall.” Within three years the writer would be dead from a stroke, at the age of 58, brought on it was suggested, by an emotional reading he’d given of the death of Nancy in his novel, Oliver Twist. Even if apocryphal, it’s a fitting finale for one of the most enduring of all writers.

Where to find CHARLES DICKENS at One Grand Books (Click on names to see our bibliophiles explanations)

Great Expectations

Emily Mortimer

Dan Stevens

Sarah Waters

Christopher Guest

Tilda Swinton

David Copperfield

Suzanne Vega

Nigella Lawson

John Irving

Frank Rich

Bleak House

Roz Chast

Neil Gaiman

A Tale of Two Cities

Uzo Aduba

The Pickwick Papers

Hugh Dancy

Little Dorrit

Deborah Eisenberg

A Christmas Carol

David Copperfield*

*the magician, not the character.

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