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Dickens’ 200th Birthday Celebrated Worldwide

Readers around the world are commemorating the 200th birthday of beloved author Charles Dickens today. Among the numerous events planned is a Global Dickens read-a-thon launched this morning by the British Council. At the top of each hour, a new video of a Dickens reading is posted on the Council’s Twitter feed (@BritishCouncil). The posted readings are chosen from submissions worldwide. According to the British Council’s website “Each exclusive clip will reflect on the most interesting, engaging and significant moments in Dickens’ literary colossus.”

The Guardian reported that Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, marked the anniversary by visiting the Dickens Museum (formerly the author’s residence on Doughty Street). Here they enjoyed a private reading by actress Gillian Anderson. Afterwards, the royals attended a wreath-laying ceremony on Dickens’ grave, located in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner.

Even Google got in on the celebrations today, posting a new Dickens themed doodle on their home page.

Why is it that the writer still strikes a chord with audiences after all these years? “There are many reasons for this. He, more than any other author, stands firmly entrenched in the lineage of English writing. He stretches back into the storehouse of the canon, drawing on the Bible and Bunyan for his morals and absolutes, reaching into Shakespeare for those bumptious personages like Pecksniff and Micawber. He is part of the genetic coding of the way that we think about books,” stated an article in The Telegraph.

“His hypnotic plots are beautifully conceived variants on two of the deepest themes that touch us: mystery and revelation. The entropic weirdness of Bleak House; the thrilling detection of Great Expectations; even the comical niceties of The Pickwick Papers have a sense of urgency to them. His themes are copious, vivid, capable of enormous sweeps and tender delicacies: law, justice, the sense of a diseased society – these are things that never leave us. The range of his characters is huge: if you feel sick at the sentimentality of Jo the crossing sweeper’s death, or indeed at the ‘comedy’ of Sam Weller in Pickwick, you can’t help but marvel at the austerity of Miss Havisham or the cruelty of Ebeneezer Scrooge.”

Take a photo tour of Dickens’ favorite places in London.

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