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The Dustshoveller's Gazette: What the Dickens...?

Monday, 1 August 2011

What the Dickens...?

Charles Dickens
Dickens in the 1830s, looking a good deal
 more glamorous than in later life
Filling in the publicity form, one question which came up asked about anniversaries or other events which could be used as a hook to promote THE BOOK. There's the fire itself of course (16 October every year - 178th anniversary in 2012). More topically, there's the 2012 Olympics in London which will feature lots of aerial shots of the new Palace of Westminster during the marathons and the beach volleyball in Horseguards. 2012 is also the 200th anniversary of the assassination of Spencer Perceval, the only British PM to have been murdered in office (in fact in the lobby of the Commons,and which plays a part in the book)...and finally it's the bicentenary of Charles Dickens' birth next year.

Dickens appears four times in Conflagration. Surprised? You shouldn't be. He began his writing career as a journalist a couple of years before the 1834 fire, and was in fact a Parliamentary reporter. He wrote for the Morning Chronicle, one of the main newspapers I used in my research, and his sketches of London life "by Boz" came out less than two years after the fire, followed by his first - serialised - novel in 1836: The Pickwick Papers. He clearly knew the old Palace and Parliament well, including some of its personnel.  Expect
2012 to be the year of Dickensmania...

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