Today’s the day. All the 2012 hype around the bicentenary of Charles Dickens is centred on 7 February, exactly 200 years since the great man was born in Portsmouth. If we needed proof of the cultural significance of this birthday (and we don’t), Dickens — and one of his books, Great Expectations — is trending on Twitter.
Events of all kinds are marking the occasion. On the ‘official’ side of things, the Prince of Wales will lay a wreath at Dickens’ grave in Poet’s Corner as part of a service at Westminster Abbey while the British Council are running an international Twitter-based ‘read-a-thon’. The Prince will also visit the Charles Dickens museum in Doughty Street (pictured).
Elsewhere, Dickens tributes are ubiquitous. Google has a Christmas Carol-esque graphic; one of Dickens’ biographers, Claire Tomalin, has written an open letter to her subject and actor Simon Callow has been stalking Highgate Cemetery (where many of the Dickens family are buried) to promote his own Dickens biography.
Dickens books are unsurprisingly being published at breakneck speed this year but it is not only biographies that are worth a look: we recommend The Dickens Dictionary by John Sutherland and the Museum of London’s photography book, Dickens’s Victorian London 1839-1901. Want to celebrate Dickens today in your own way? How about a Dickens-themed pub crawl.
There is much more Dickens celebrating still to come, of course. You still have a few months to catch the leading Dickens exhibition in town at the Museum of London, while there is a new exhibition coming soon at the Royal Academy of Music (opening on 2 May) that will explore the novelist’s relationship with music. And watch this space for news of a Londonist Dickens quiz, with Victorian fancy dress and a proper Dickens impersonator.
Photo courtesy of wallyg via the Londonist Flick pool.