If you learn of events in your own patch of "Dickensland," be it Rochester, Kent, or Sydney, Australia, please let us know.

Think Dickens was a Londoner? Think again: he was born at the naval town of Plymouth, raised in the dockyard town of Chatham on the Medway, bought a grand mansion named Gadshill Place near Rochester, and spent a considerable amount of time abroad, notably in Genoa, Italy, and Boulogne, France, where he insisted his sons be schooled. He even (some Dickensians still blush to confess the fact) shared a "love nest" in Condette, France, with young actress Ellen Ternan. To top it all off, he loved Boston, Massachusetts, and spent time there on both his 1842 and 1867-68 reading tours. And let's not forget those precious three weeks directing and acting with the British garrison in Montreal, Quebec. And, now that it's his bicennial year, it isn't just Westminster Abbey (site of his burial in Poets' Corner) that's getting (to quote novelist Elizabeth Gaskell) "Dickensey." The following a just a few of the special events subsequent to the event featuring four score of scholars, hundreds of Dickens descendants, HRH Prince Charles, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey — and actor Ralph Fiennes brilliantly reading both parts in "The Death of Joe, The Crossing Sweeper" from Bleak House.

In addition to the Paris-London-Condette-Rochester "Four Cities" Conference sponsored by a plethora of French, British, and American cultural associations, including The Charles Dickens Museum of London (from 1 through 8 February 2012 at a handful of venue in series) and the University of Massachusetts (Lowell) conference this summer, London is awash with Dickens fetes. See VisitLondon.com.

"A Hankering after Ghosts: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural" at The British Library (29 November 2011 — 4 March 2012)

To mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens's birth, this exhibition explores the many ways in which Dickens used supernatural phenomena in his works, while placing them in the context of scientific, technological and philosophical debates of his time. Dickens's interest in the macabre was apparent from an early age. As an adult he was caught up in "mesmeric mania" that swept Britain and developed an interest in the "power of the human mind." He believed that all supernatural manifestations must have rational explanations, but his investigations into animal magnetism and psychology showed him that science could be as chilling as any ghost story. As a result he became wonderfully adept at suspending readers between psychological and supernatural explanations in his fiction. The exhibition includes the following:

A letter from Charles Dickens to his wife, Catherine (1853) — this letter alludes to a marital disagreement that arose after Catherine became jealous of the close attention her husband was paying to a lady named Augusta de la Rue. Dickens used mesmerism to treat her nervous condition after he learnt how to mesmerise people himself.

"Well authenticated rappings" in Household Words (1858) — Dickens had an ongoing dispute with the 19th-century Spiritualists after he mocked them in several articles in Household Words and All the Year Round. In "Well Authenticated Rappings," he questions the motivation of spirits who would return to make general idiots of themselves by conveying inane messages full of spelling mistakes.

The Terrific Register: or, records of crimes, judgements, providences and calamities (1821) — Dickens was greatly affected by the things he read in his youth. One of the teenage Dickens's favourite reads was The Terrific Register, a penny weekly magazine which covered such topics as murder, ghosts, incest and cannibalism. He claimed the stories "frightened the very wits out of [his] head." Free exhibition

Dickens and London at the Museum of London, near St. Paul's Underground

See Dickens's rare, original manuscripts and discover what the capital was like in Victorian times at the Museum of London's new exhibition, "Dickens and London."

February 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. To celebrate the occasion, the Museum of London presents Dickens in London, the first major exhibition on the influential author since 1970.

Discover what life was like in 19th-century London and learn about Dickens' difficult childhood experiences, including working in a blacking factory while his father was locked in a debtor's prison.

As well as looking at the social ills of the day, the Dickens and London exhibition also highlights the new innovations, including steam boats, railways, the electric telegraph and the penny post.

At the National Portrait Gallery, near Leicester Square Underground, London

Charles Dickens, by (George) Herbert Watkins, 29 April 1858 — NPG P301(20) at The. National Portrait Gallery, London. Free.

Charles Dickens by (George) Herbert Watkins 29 April 1858 NPG P301(20)

"Shown alongside Daniel Maclise's portrait of Charles Dickens as the bright young writer, also on view in room 24, this display marks the bicentenary of the author's birth in February 1812, and explores his legendary status as the ‘best understood and widely loved writers’ of his time. Comprised of prints, drawings, and photographs, the display charts the key aspects of Dickens's life, including his family, friends and influential contemporaries, as well as his American encounters during his tours to the country in 1842 and 1867.

"Still revered as the "most English of story-tellers," Dickens produced works that continue to define our perception of the Victorian age. The display considers his lasting influence with images of the actors who have portrayed his characters over the years, such as Cecil Beaton's striking view of Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham in David Lean's Great Expectations of 1946. Certain posthumous drawings by Harry Furniss are also presented to reveal how the famous "Boz" was memorialised by his peers."

Dickens in Lowell, Massachusetts

"To mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens's birth and to commemorate his historic trip to Lowell in 1842, UMass Lowell and its partners are throwing a party—a seven-month slate of performances, speakers, family programs, and a landmark exhibition exploring Dickens's life, work, and travels in America.

"The grand opening of “Dickens in Lowell” will be held March 30 at the Boott Mills Gallery at the Lowell National Historical Park. The free event will include artifacts not displayed in generations, hands-on exhibits, speakers, music, and refreshments. More information can be found at uml.edu/dickens. and www.boston.com. So come to Lowell, and we'll give you the Dickens — the real Charles Dickens.

The Dickens Society of America

The Dickens Society of America will hold its annual scholarly symposium from the 13th through the 15th of July 2012.

Dickens in Australia

"And what about Dickensian connections in 21st-century Australia? There are no descendants of Dickens since Alfred's two daughters migrated to Britain in the 1920s, but there are lots of devoted fans of his novels. Members of the Dickens Fellowship of Melbourne and Dickens Fellowship Society in Sydney are dedicated to enjoying and studying the works and life of Charles Dickens, and meet up on a regular basis at talks and events. [University of Sydney]

Events sponsored by the British Council

Exhibitions in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia will showcase the meaning of the term "Dickensian" throughout 2012 under the auspices of The British Council, which over the past few months has been supporting projects "using a canonical British novelist as a platform to discuss contemporary art and literature across sixty-six countries. Thus, the British Council is backing endeavours the needs of eleven million teachers and two billion students of English. Its ELT materials include documentaries on heroes and villain. On the 7th of February readers from twenty-four countries participated in a world-wide, twenty-four-hour "read-a-thon" of the entire range of works in the Dickens canon. In Berlin from 24 through 28 January in Berlin it sponsored the Conference "What Would Dickens Write Today?" with a host of popular writers such as A. S. Byatt. London Film and BFI will stage special film presentations in twenty-five countries, and Immersive Theatre will take a company of actors around the world. Richard T. Kelly, a best-selling novelist, was the lead on a creative writing project in Argentina involving Sketches by Boz as a model for young writers "Sketching the City" — Buenos Aires. Kelly has taught them how to become roving sound cameras mindful of all the senses, challenging them to make a sketch in words of something that they see every day.

Further details may be found through the British Council site and and Dickens 2012.

Dickens read-a-thon

The global Dickens read-a-thon.

Wiley-Blackwell celebration of the bicentenary

Lisa Evans writes to say that on the 7th and 8th of March 2012, Wiley-Blackwell will be hosting a free online conference to celebrate the bicentenary of Charles Dickens. We would like to invite Dickens enthusiasts to create a short video address for the event on the theme of ‘what does Dickens mean to you?’. The best video addresses will be featured during the conference and instructions for creating a video can be found here: http://dickensworld.wordpress.com/video-address-invitation/.

Other conference features include:

The event provides an opportunity for an international group of scholars to discuss the work of one of the world’s most important authors. The emphasis is on illustrating the many ways in which Dickens influenced, and was influenced by, his contact with other countries. More broadly, we hope the conference will encourage online discussion about the social, cultural and technological milieu in which (and of which) Dickens wrote. Log on to the discussion whenever it suits your schedule, everyone is welcome to participate! Find out more at http://dickensworld.wordpress.com/.


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens

Last modified 18 February 2012