I direct you to my post on Charles Dickens at my Jane Austen in Vermont blog, as we celebrate today his 200th birthday!
The University of Delaware announces its new online digital collection of the William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection:
[Charles Dickens Bookplate]
Reverend William Augustus Brewer was an avid bookplate collector. His wife, Augusta LaMotte Brewer, bequeathed his collection to the University of Delaware Library after her husband’s death. The William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection comprises 12,680 printed bookplates dating mainly from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection includes bookplates from the libraries of John Carter Brown, Lewis Carroll, Samuel L. Clemens, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Dickens, Walt Disney, Edward Gibbon, Alexander Hamilton, Harry Houdini, Samuel Pepys, Howard Pyle, Paul Revere, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Alfred Stieglitz and William Butler Yeats, as well as many others. The designers of the bookplates include Thomas Bewick, Edward Burne-Jones, Kate Greenaway, William Hogarth, Howard Pyle, Rudolf Ruzicka, and James A. M. Whistler. Subjects illustrated in the bookplates are varied, inclucing birds, death’s heads, medicine, music, rebuses, and portraits of historical and literary figures.
The William Augustus Brewer Digital Bookplate Collection currently contains 3,040 of these bookplates, with the remaining 10,000 to be added in 2011.
[Text and image from the website]
There is so much written about Charles Dickens, I can only here convey Happy Birthday wishes, a few pictures, a few links and a reminder to watch the Masterpiece Classic Dickens extravaganza beginning February 15 [check your PBS listings]
Further Reading: [with endless links to biographies, works, criticism]
Masterpiece Classic is hosting its Dickens tribute beginning on Sunday February 15. Here is the lineup and the PBS commentary on each of the adaptations:
This bold adaptation breathes new life into the Dickens story about the young orphan Oliver who is sent to the workhouse where children are raised on a diet of hard work and thin gruel. Starring Timothy Spall as Fagin the cutpurse king, Tom Hardy as Bill Sikes, Fagin’s accomplice and Sophie Okonedo as Nancy, Oliver’s guardian angel.
Charles Dickens’s beloved novel gets all-star treatment in this encore presentation of David Copperfield. An event for the entire family, the cast includes Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen, Bob Hoskins – and an irresistible ten-year-old Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) as the young boy against the world.
One of Dickens’ greatest love stories also has the timely theme of financial collapse. Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice) stars as hero Arthur Clennam, with Claire Foy as Amy “Little” Dorrit and Tom Courtenay as her father, who has been incarcerated for 25 years for insolvency. Scores of other great actors appear in this moving tale.
The Old Curiosity Shop
A teenage girl and her grandfather lose everything to a maniacal moneylender and flee his relentless pursuit. The saga of Little Nell, Grandfather, and their tormentor, Daniel Quilp, is one of Dickens’ most heart-rending tales. Derek Jacobi stars as Grandfather, with Sophie Vavasseur (Northanger Abbey) as Nell and Toby Jones (W.) as Quilp.
And for those of you who like your literary heroes sitting upon your bookshelf, here is the must-have Dickens Action Figure:
Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens!!
Today [January 8, 1824 - September 23, 1889] is the birthday of one of my favorite writers, Wilkie Collins. Longtime friend of Dickens, Collins is most known for being the first writer of full-length detective stories. The Woman in White  and The Moonstone  are considered his best works, and though I personally love those two works, one must also read his other less-known works, No Name (1862) and Armadale (1866).
Collins had an interesting personal life ~ never married, but lived for years with Caroline Graves, whom he first saw in a mysterious midnight encounter he later used in The Woman in White; he had three illegitimate children by another woman, Martha Rudd (I believe he managed the two households by having them live around the corner from each other, not unlike his friend Dickens, who also maintained two households, a fact unknown to his adoring public.) Collins also suffered from gout and an addiction to opium for the last quarter of his life. He was widely popular, traveled extensively, often with Dickens, and toured the United States in 1873-74.
It may be possible in novel-writing to present characters successfully without telling a story; but it is not possible to tell a story successfully without presenting characters. ~ Wilkie Collins
Today we celebrate Dickens A Christmas Carol , first published on December 19, 1843. Illustrated by John Leech, it was the first of Dickens’s Christmas stories, instantly successful, selling over 6,000 copies in a week. It also stimulated a revival of the Christmas traditions that we associate with Victorian England, many of which we still practice today. But it is the enduring story and character of Ebenezer Scrooge that remain with us through the years. I remember as a child the excitement of every Christmas Eve listening to the story and then watching the 1951 movie version on a 12″ black & white TV screen starring Alastair Sim, and can STILL get frightened even thinking about those dragging chains of Jacob Marley’s Ghost!
Dickens was very involved in the production of the book, an elaborate volume far superior to other works published at the time selling for only five shillings. The first edition, published by Chapman & Hall, had a russet binding blind-stamped with the title in gold, yellow endpapers, and a title page printed in blue and red [see above] (the latter has been changed after a “trial” printing, as Dickens was displeased with the original green endpapers and green and red title page….[I do, however see some discrepancy in the sources regarding this description and need to do further research...]
What is a first edition valued at today? A copy [see above image] just sold at the December 17, 2008 London Sotheby’s auction for 20,000 GBP. There are copies listed online for $14,500 – $37,500.
There are so many editions of A Christmas Carol, and so much written about Dickens and this, the first of his Christmas Stories, that I cannot do any justice to the resources. So I append only a few, along with several online links for more information:
THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS: How Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, by Les Staniford. Crown, 2008. The newest book on the subject…
Hear, Michael Patrick, editor. The Annotated Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illus. by John Leech. Avon, 1977. A facsimile text of the first edition, with reproductions of the hand-colored engravings and additional illustrations by Cruikshank, “Phiz,” Tenniel, and others; an extensive introduction by Hearn, notes, and bibliography. [reprinted in 2004]
Osborne, Allen. Facts about A Christmas Carol. London, Bradley, 1937.
Smith, Walter E. Charles Dickens in the Original Cloth. A Bibliographical Catalogue.. Part II. The Christmas Books and Selected Secondary Works. Los Angeles, Heritage Bookshop, 1983.
Online links ~ Text
Online Links ~ Select Sources
Have yourself a very Merry Christmas!
The Morgan Library & Museum has two exhibitions of interest:
John Milton’s Paradise Lost: October 7, 2008- January 4, 2009
“John Milton’s Paradise Lost celebrates the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton (1608–1674) with an exhibition drawn from the Morgan’s collection of the English poet’s work, which includes the only surviving manuscript of Paradise Lost. This manuscript of the first book of Milton’s epic, transcribed and corrected under the direction of the blind poet, was used to set the type for the first printing of the poem in 1667. Copies of the first and later editions of the poem, including the first edition of Milton’s work printed in the United States, are also on view. The exhibition also features Albrecht Dürer’s engraving The Fall of Man, William Blake’s Milton: Old Age, Richard Westall’s watercolor depiction of Satan, and a rarely seen miniature portrait of Milton.”
“Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Mr. Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, the Ghost of Christmas Past-in the age of film and television these characters from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol are universally familiar. The story has been told as a stage musical, a serious dramatic film, and a modern comedy.
But, in the end, it all comes back to a magical book written by Dickens in a six-week flurry of activity in late 1843. Greeted with universal acclaim at the time of publication, A Christmas Carol might rightfully be called an “instant masterpiece.” William Makepeace Thackeray called it a “national benefit” and an American factory owner gave his workers an extra day’s holiday when he had finished reading it.
When the manuscript was returned after printing Dickens arranged for it to be finely bound in red morocco leather and presented it as a gift to his solicitor. It was purchased by Pierpont Morgan in the 1890s. Beginning on November 20, visitors to The Morgan Library & Museum can view the original manuscript by Dickens in a special presentation in the museum’s famed McKim Building.“
The Morgan Library & Museum is located at 225 Madison Ave at 36th Street, New York City.