Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy 200th birthday, Mr. Dickens!

Today marks the bicentennial of Charles Dickens's birthday, which has been the cause of great celebration around the world as literary scholars, fans and anyone who has ever enjoyed "A Christmas Carol" pay tribute to the great author. Today Prince Charles laid a wreath on Dickens's grave at Westminster Abbey and later visited the Charles Dickens Museum in London where actress Gillian Anderson (who played Miss Haversham in a BBC adaptation of "Great Expectations") read from the novelists' works. The British Council is sponsoring a global read-a-thon, with 24 reading from 24 of Dickens works in 24 hours, which began at 7:00 a.m. GMT (1:00 a.m. CST).

The celebration has also been the cause for new discoveries and reflections on the man, his life, and his works. Recently, a letter that Dickens wrote to his oldest son, Henry, was reexamined. In it, he counsels his eldest son - who had just arrived at Cambridge to begin university- to watch his spending closely, but also encourages him to enjoy undergraduate life. Reinforcing this wish, Dickens also sent his son 102 bottles of various liquors and wines.

If you've found most of Dickens's work a bit too dense or intimidating to explore, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian created "Digested Dickens" - abbreviated versions of three of Dickens's best known works."Great Expectations," "Bleak House" and "David Copperfield." Of course, if you'd rather read his novels in their entirety, the library carries over 35 works by Dickens in various formats, including TV serials and movies. If you'd like to learn more about the man himself, we also have a list of biographies and of works that were inspired by Dickens.

You can also enjoy a tour of Charles Dickens's world in photographs, a "Dickens" of a quiz to test your knowledge of the author and his works and a wealth of digitized manuscripts and letters from the collection of The Morgan Library & Museum in New York.

Happy reading!

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