Announcing the launch of Warwick's new Charles Dickens website
To celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens in February 2012, the University of Warwick has launched a website dedicated to the life and work of the Victorian novelist. Here, Knowledge Centre journalist Penelope Jenkins gives us a taster of the features that we can expect over the next few months on the Celebrating Dickens site.
What the Dickens is happening in 2012? February 7th 2012 marks the bicentenary of the birth of the great Victorian journalist, novelist and social commentator. Charles Dickens achieved great critical acclaim and fame in his own lifetime and his work continues to stand the test of time. And the popularity of Dickens at Christmas shows no signs of abating this year, with BBC television offering a three-part Christmas adaptation, Great Expectations, starring Ray Winstone.
Born in Portsmouth, Dickens’ family moved briefly to Bloomsbury and then settled in Chatham, Kent. Financial difficulties caused another move to Southwark in London where two years later his father was imprisoned for debt. Later, the young Dickens worked as a junior clerk in a law office and then as a freelance reporter before becoming a writer. His childhood poverty and observations of the legal system inspired his prolific fiction. Much of his work was published in a serial format, which included cliffhangers to encourage his followers to read the next instalment.
To celebrate his life and work and evaluate the lasting impact of his literature on social reform, the University of Warwick will be publishing Dickens content on a brand new website, Celebrating Dickens, some of which will also feature on the Knowledge Centre. Over the next few months on the Knowledge Centre we shall be learning what the screenwriter Andrew Davies’ view is on adapting Dickens’ novels for television; discussing how Dickens’ hard upbringing sparked his zeal for social and law reform and what inspired the writing of the novel Hard Times; and bringing you video of readings from his work filmed at the Kent attraction Dickens World.
Christmas is a festival to which Charles Dickens will forever be linked, thanks to his hugely successful novel, A Christmas Carol, which has been turned into numerous Hollywood films. Warwick academic Professor John Mee has recorded a ‘Dickens at Christmas’ podcast, asking how much of our seasonal traditions have come from the imagination of the novelist.
Prof Mee, from the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, is an expert on Dickens and authored the The Cambridge Introduction to Charles Dickens (Cambridge University Press, 2010). He also teaches the Warwick MA course, Charles Dickens: Novels, Journalism, Adaptation. He is the main contributor to our Dickens celebration.
So forget today’s ‘Hard Times’ in a ‘Bleak House’ with ‘The Cricket on the Hearth’, we have ‘Great Expectations’ for 2012!