Wednesday, 12 September 2012

In Review: Sue Seddon - Mrs Dickens Presents...

Mrs Dickens Presents..
A Performance of Monologues by Mrs Catherine Dickens
written and performed by Sue Seddon
at St John the Evangelist Church, Lancaster
as part of Lancaster’s Heritage Open Days 2012
Sunday 9 September 2012 at 1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm and 2.30pm
Reviewed by Michael Nunn

Local writer, teacher and performer Sue Seddon ( has also contributed to Lancaster’s own celebrations this weekend of the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens.  On Sunday afternoon she presented in the historic and Grade II listed Church of St John The Evangelist, her newly-written performance of Mrs Dickens Presents.., a monologue based on the life, loves and recipes of Catherine, the Scottish wife of the eminent, ‘Inimitable’ writer.

Sue gave us a witty and succinct chronological account of Catherine’s relationship with the writer, an arrangement that was not without its problems, and of Catherine’s own cookbook, ‘What Shall We Have For Dinner?’, published in 1851.  Sue also told us about the catering arrangements in the marital home.

Lucidly, intelligently told, she cited scholarly and contemporary accounts of the household, husband and her legacy.  Ellen Ternan, Dickens’ ‘mistress’ has also been named ‘Invisible Woman’, and also entered the narrative.  Whilst it is difficult even now to form a clear factual picture of what really went on, there is still much debate about her place in Dickens’ life, and, indeed his bed.

Placing Catherine in the context of creative women in the nineteenth century, such as the Brontë sisters, Mrs Gaskell and Jane Austen, she entertained us with a professional delivery to a humane and articulate story which bravely and justifiably placed Catherine Hogarth (later Mrs Dickens) as a figure in her own right.

Another welcome, impressive and entertaining contribution to the City’s celebrations of one of the country’s most famous writers.

Michael Nunn

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