Today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Dickens was the best-known novelist of his time and considered by many to be the greatest writer from the Victorian Era. Even today, his works live on in English classrooms. One cannot easily forget Miss Havisham, Bob Cratchit, or Charles Darney.
In light of his bicentennial, there are celebrations and commentaries spanning the globe—from the U.S. to Dicken’s hometown in Portsmouth, U.K.
Check out these links for more information.
Here at FUP, we’re celebrating, by giving a nod to The Pleasures of Memory: Learning to Read with Charles Dickens by Sarah Winter. Examining a set of Dickens’s most popular novels from The Pickwick Papers to Our Mutual Friend, Winter shows how his serial fiction instigated specific reading practices by reworking the conventions of religious didactic tracts from which most Victorians learned to read. Incorporating an influential associationist psychology of learning and reading founded on the cumulative functioning of memory, Dickens’s serial novels consistently lead readers to reflect on their reading as a form of shared experience, thus channeling their personal memories of Dickens’s “unforgettable” scenes and characters into a public reception reaching across social classes.
Dickens’s celebrity authorship, Winter argues, represented both a successful marketing program for popular fiction and a cultural politics addressed to a politically unaffiliated, social-activist Victorian readership. As late-nineteenth-century educational reforms in Britain and the United States consolidated Dickens’s heterogeneous constituency of readers into the “mass” populations served by national and state school systems, however, Dickens’s beloved novels came to embody the socially inclusive and humanizing goals of democratic education.