At 200 Years, Charles Dickens Remembered as Great British Writer

Dickens showIn London’s Westminster Abbey on Feb. 7, a ceremony for Charles Dickens‘ 200th birthday will star a fellow showman: actor/director Ralph Fiennes.

Pictured: Matthew Rhys, left, Tamzin Merchant and Freddie
Fox star in ‘The Mystery Of Edwin Drood,’ one of three new PBS
productions of Charles Dickens classics.

At her horse ranch in Carmel, Calif., novelist Jane Smiley, a former English professor, will offer her own toast to the great English novelist “who made me want to be a novelist.”

both sides of the Atlantic, Dickens, who loved to perform, remains a
literary force of nature. He’s to writers and filmmakers what Abraham Lincoln is to historians: an endless source of fascination and inspiration.

Through both comic and dark touches, his 15 major novels — from A Christmas Carol, which changed the way the holiday is celebrated, to his semi-autobiographical David Copperfield sympathized with the poor, especially children. His fictional characters, from Scrooge to Fagin, remain household names.

“He has always been loved by ordinary people because they knew he was on their side,” says biographer Claire Tomalin, who “fell in love at first sight,” reading David Copperfield with her mother when she was 7. “The rich are less keen on him. We should remember that he took high art to the masses.”

Christopher Hitchens,
the British-American critic and reporter, noted that Dickens “truly is
ranked among our immortals,” in an essay in the February issue of Vanity Fair, written three weeks before Hitchens died of cancer in December.

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SOURCE: Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY