Today marks the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, and the Free Library joins the global celebration honoring the life and legacy of the world's first literary superstar.
Philadelphia is home to what for a long time was the world's only statue of Charles Dickens. Find out more about the statue in our digital collection. Each year a ceremony, hosted by the Friends of Clark Park, is held at the much beloved statue. The celebration is detailed in an article from yesterday's Inquirer.
The party continues this weekend. Join us Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Parkway Central Children's Department for readings, crafts, and some surprises - possibly an appearance by the man himself. Additionally, the Rare Book Department will be open from 1-5 p.m. for viewing our exhibition "From the Desk of Charles Dickens." While you're here, be sure to check out our lively and colorful exhibition on the first floor "Character Sketches from the World of Charles Dickens." And - you spoke and we listened - beginning on Saturday, February 18th the Rare Book Department will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m.
Events are scheduled all year long to explore the lasting impact of the Immortal Boz. Check our calendar frequently for events happening all over the area. On the third Thursday of each month we'll be holding a literary salon in the Elkins Room to discuss one of Dickens's novels. Next Thursday covers Oliver Twist. You can register for these free events on Eventbrite.
The salons are led by Edward Pettit, best known as the "Philly Poe Guy" who argued for Philadelphia as the true home of Edgar Allan Poe's literary legacy. As our Dickens Ambassador he has been helping to plan events for our Year of Dickens and he will give you a Dickens novel if you ask! Pettit has also undertaken the reading of all of Dickens's works this year, including the novels, plays, and journalism. You can follow his adventures on his Reading Charles Dickens website.
Celebrations are taking place all over the world, especially in Great Britain. A Dickens 2012 website chronicles the year-long worldwide schedule of events, exhibitions, and performances. This morning a ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey, attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Ralph Fiennes read a touching passage from Bleak House as Prince Charles laid a wreath on the author's grave in Poet's Corner.
Finally, even Google is on board with a 200th birthday doodle!
For more information on the Free Library's Year of Dickens visit http://libwww.freelibrary.org/dickens/.
Rare Book Department,
Year of Dickens