Lectures are in the Play House: 10.45 for morning members: 13.30 for afternoon members.

Completed December 2019

“A Dickens of a Christmas and God Bless us Everyone.”

By Bertie Pearce

Bertie Pearce delivered a hilarious lecture when he revealed a Dickensian Christmas with readings, biographical details and conjuring tricks. Dickens celebrated Christmas in numerous works but the spirit of Christmas cheer is immortalised in his masterpiece “A Christmas Carol”.
Influences from his early life can be seen in Dickens’ writing when, as a boy, he had to work at 30, Hungerford Steps – a shoe blacking factory – after his father had been incarcerated in the Marshalsea for debt. He was hungry and worked long hours and an illustration by Fred Bernard of Dickens at work there showed us the despair he felt. Such early experiences led him to become a great social reformer and he later made a speech to the Athenaeum called “Ignorance” about children in poverty. This was used in “A Christmas Carol”, with the boy and girl called Ignorance and Want which give the novel its pathos. Many of the 200 characters he created are portrayed by Robert William Buss in his portrait of Dickens at his desk in Gads Hill Place called “Dickens’s Dream”.
Dickens loved theatre and we were shown a painting by Sickert of one such theatre he attended. The scenes he creates in his novels are theatrical ones. He depicted an ideal Christmas in “A Christmas Carol” and Bertie illustrated Dickens’ depiction of the games, food and dancing at Christmas by looking at pictures of characters like the Fezziwigs. Games such as Blind Man’s Bluff are found in Pickwick Papers. A huge effort was made to give the poor food at Christmas and the lecturer treated us to a reading of scenes such as Mrs. Cratchitt’s Christmas.
Towards the end of his life Dickens would repeatedly talk of 30, Hungerford Place as it had made such an awful impression on him with its rat infested work rooms. When he died, such was his fame that a cockney barrow-girl said “Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?” A Christmas Carol has a heart warming ending, with Scrooge becoming a second father to Tiny Tim who proclaims “God Bless Us Everyone!”