The event at Lancaster Library will feature a host of highly regarded authors and speakers including Claire Tomalin, Dickens' Biographer. Its aim is to help us discover why we might still consider reading Dickens in the 21st Century.
The landscape of Lancashire inspired three of Dickens' stories and he visited the county several times as part of his popular reading tours.
Dickens visited Lancaster in 1857 together with fellow novelist Wilkie Collins. He was a great public speaker and was renowned for giving dramatic readings of his work and he did one of these at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster, the third oldest theatre in the UK. He also stayed at the Kings Arms Hotel in the city and the hotel is thought to feature in the story 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices' which he co-authored with Wilkie Collins and which was published in 'Household Words' in 1857.
'Mr. Goodchild concedes Lancaster to be a pleasant place. A place dropped in the midst of a charming landscape, a place with a fine ancient fragment of castle, a place of lovely walks, a place possessing staid old houses richly fitted with old Honduras mahogany, which has grown so dark with time that it seems to have got something of a retrospective mirror-quality into itself, and to show the visitor, in the depth of its grain, through all its polish, the hue of the wretched slaves who groaned long ago under old Lancaster merchants. And Mr. Goodchild adds that the stones of Lancaster do sometimes whisper, even yet, of rich men passed away—upon whose great prosperity some of these old doorways frowned sullen in the brightest weather—that their slave-gain turned to curses, as the Arabian Wizard’s money turned to leaves, and that no good ever came of it, even unto the third and fourth generations, until it was wasted and gone.' (Chapter 3, 'The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices')
• National Dickens Readers Day - Sunday 4th November, Lancaster Library. Tickets cost £7.50 (including lunch) and can be obtained from the Dukes Theatre: 01524 598500. Info online: www.dickens2012.org/event/national-dickens-readers-day-0