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The enduring power of Dickens.

THE excellent article by Clive Francis (Mail, December 14) vividly brings to life what must have been a truly exhilarating experience for all those Brummies and Black Country folk fortunate enough to be present at Birmingham Town Hall on 27 December 1853 for the first public reading of A Christmas Carol.

Indeed, Birmingham had the distinction of being the venue for the first public reading of any of Dickens' works . In the coming years Dickens went on to give public readings in London, the provinces, Ireland and Scotland, but the time and energy expended on such a frenetic schedule inevitably took its toll on his health.

In 1867 Dickens embarked on an exhausting American tour and was reported to have made a profit of PS1,300 a week (an enormous sum in those days).

In particular, his reading of the more dramatic scenes, like the Murder of Nancy, left him prostrate.

In 1869 at Preston Dickens had to discontinue his public readings on the orders of his doctor, as paralysis threatened.

Dickens died on June 9, 1870 of a brain haemorrhage, aged only 58.

Why does the worldwide appeal of Dickens still endure 143 years after his death? Dickens was a master in the study of characters and atmosphere which helps explain why the audience in Birmingham Town Hall in 1853 were spellbound.

The characters he created are so real that you feel you know them - Fagin, Heep, Micawber, Pickwick and Scrooge, to name but a few.

Dickens used his superb power as a story teller to expose the flagrant cruelties and hypocrisies of his age, the appalling conditions in the factories, mills and mines and the astounding lack of education.

Dickens is not only one of the most prolific of all English writers, but also the greatest.

So, at this festive time of the year, who better to quote than Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol: "God bless us, everyone!" Peter Henrick, Past President, Dickens Fellowship, Birmingham Branch
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 21, 2013
Words:329
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