Today marks the bicentennial of Charles Dickens's birth and there are some notable festivities occurring! I've previously posted about the wonderful exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum in NYC, which I highly recommend visiting if you're in the area. In case you need additional incentive, the Morgan is offering free admission today to anyone who mentions Dickens's birthday. The exhibit is only open until the 12th, so get there soon! Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, joined a host of dignitaries, actors, and Dickens's descendants today to hold a special memorial service held in London's Westminster Abbey. Prince Charles laid a wreath of white flowers on Dickens's grave in Poet's Corner, actor Ralph Fiennes read from Bleak House, and prayers were said for the poor as well as writers chronicling modern society. Of the ceremony, historian Judith Flanders, said it was an "enormously moving" service and that Dickens "would have hated it". Flanders explained that Dickens famously stated in his will that "he wanted no public ceremonies, no statues, no public acknowledgement. He wanted to be buried and die as a private man. He wanted his books to be his monument." There was also a simultaneous memorial event held in Portsmouth, where Dickens was born. The British Council, the UK's cultural relations body, has organized a number of Dickens-related global initiatives and events "to develop global activity that will include brand new film adaptations, art exhibitions, public readings, immersive theatre, educational events and creative workshops." One of these workshops is called Sketches by Boz: Sketching the City, "a worldwide call for aspiring writers, illustrators and photographers to respond to their city today". The Bronx Museum of the Arts is partnering with the British Council to take part in this program, asking local teens to use their local communities as inspiration for their own writings and artworks, as Dickens did. Winning entries will go on display at the museum. On February 17th, the University of Delaware will hold a special Saturday symposium entitled Celebrating Mr. Dickens. The program will include "talks on Dickens and his world by faculty members, a tour of two exhibitions in the University of Delaware Library, and a performance of the author's most celebrated public reading, 'Sikes and Nancy'."
Here's a link to a Guardian webpage that has a ton of info, multimedia and articles about Dickens from a variety of perspectives. Dickens truly was a fascinating and remarkable man, so take a moment today to learn a little more about him. The best way to celebrate, though? Pick up your favorite Dickens novel!