Charles Dickens at 200: A Dozen New Books on “the Inimitable”
Charles Dickens’s bicentenary—he was born on February 7, 1812—is the occasion for the release of a feast of books relating to the writer whom so many consider the emblem of Victorian England. Indeed, each work of new historical fiction blurbed as “Dickensian” simply reminds Dickens purists that he was truly the Inimitable—a nickname that Dickens enjoyed.
The most recent full biography, Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens, was published last October and already reviewed in LJ, as was Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s Becoming Dickens (one of LJ’s Best Books of 2011). The previous biography is Michael Slater’s Charles Dickens (2009), which explores Dickens’s writings in greater depth than does Tomalin’s. Peter Ackroyd’s Dickens (1991) seeks a Dickensian approach to its subject. Jane Smiley’s short 2002 study, Charles Dickens, has been reissued as a Penguin paperback, and frustratingly lacks an index.
In April, PBS will import new UK presentations of Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Ralph Fiennes is set to direct a film version of Tomalin’s The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens for release in late 2012 or early 2013.
For a broader “Collection Building” piece extending from elementary school through adult reading, see “Happy Birthday, Mr. Dickens“ from School Library Journal. Additionally, Dickens aficionados should check the “Dickens at 200” site set up by the Guardian, with an ever-evolving array of Dickens features, tours, videos, and discussions. They may also want to follow @Dickens2012 on Twitter. See also Media Editor Mike Rogers’s roundup of Dickens audio releases.