Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
When: Mon 20 Feb 2012, 18.30 - 20.00
Where: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions
Though most famous for his great novels of the industrial age, Dickens was one of the first ‘celebrity’ authors, attracting thousands of fans to his readings both in Britain and across the Atlantic. Not only did he give voice to his vast cast of characters; he was also a dazzling mimic and raconteur, and he wrote, stage-managed and acted in plays for the public. From his early years as a child entertainer in Portsmouth pubs to his reluctant retirement from ‘these garish lights’, he remained fanatical about the stage. Just months before his death he pointed at a theatre and declared, ‘That’s what I should have done with my life!’
Acclaimed actor and writer Simon Callow talks to Malcolm Andrews about the Dickens who was driven as much by performance and showmanship as by literary endeavour. This side of the great writer is explored in his new short biography.
Simon Callow is an actor, director and writer. He has appeared in many films, including the hugely popular Four Weddings and a Funeral. Callow’s books include Being an Actor, Shooting the Actor, a highly acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton, a biographical trilogy of Orson Welles (of which the first two parts have now been published) and Love is Where it Falls, an account of his friendship with the great play-agent, Peggy Ramsay. In 2012 he will be appearing in A Christmas Carol in the West End, in Dr Marigold and Mr Chops in Australia, in The Pickwick Papers at the Edinburgh Festival and in his one-man show The Mystery of Charles Dickens.
Malcolm Andrews is professor emeritus of Victorian and Visual Studies at Kent University. Among his publications are Dickens and the Grown-up Child (Macmillan 1994) and Charles Dickens and His Performing Selves (OUP 2006), a study of Dickens's Public Readings and the relationship he developed with his readers and listeners during that career. He is also Editor of The Dickensian, the journal of the Dickens Fellowship http://www.dickensfellowship.org/dickensian.