Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Feature: Charles Dickens- The Dickens Bicentenary 1812-2012.

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, so this year marks his bicentenary! I am planning on reading a couple of his novels this month in celebration, but this post is about a beautiful book that I NEED to share with you-especially if you are a classics or Dickens lover!

Now, most of you know I have a love/hate relationship with Dickens, but I have to respect him for his long and lasting impact on literature. And since I have loved more novels (A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Hard Times) than I have hated (Bleak House, Great Expectations), Dickens can't really be my arch-nemesis anymore. Instead, I have come to respect what he has accomplished and I am curious to know more about him!

I first spotted this book, Charles Dickens: The Dickens Bicentenary 1812-2012 back in December. I have been waiting anxiously to show it to you all in hope it will convince you to get your hands on a copy (or spend a long afternoon in the bookstore looking at it).

Anyway, while I still haven't made my way completely through it (I am reading it this month in addition to a few of his novels, so I will review it fully when I finish), I have been flipping through and reading bits and pieces about Dickens as the mood strikes me. This really isn't a book to read straight through, but to savor slowly and when the mood strikes. I've read through some of the biography pieces as well as the pages on the books I have already read.

Okay, enough. Time to show you!

The book has a LOT of material. There is a section for each of his major novels, as well as the issues and events that took place in his lifetime. This picture shows the table of contents and the beginning of the introduction.

It begins with talking about his childhood and early years. Each section is reviewed in the italics before diving into the detail-complete with pictures!

What makes this book are the pages with INSERTS. Below you can see the first of these sections. The page on the right-hand side folds out!

For each of these little packets, there is a table of contents to tell you what is included. This one has copies of some of the manuscripts of his novels (Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist).

And here are the inserts from the first section! You can see the pieces of manuscript (Dickens had horrible penmanship). All of these inserts come from the Dickens museum and were copied from the real thing! I also love that the front one (the orange Oliver Twist booklet) opens and is a replica of the play book!

I love that there is a feature on each of his major novels. The sections give a lot of great background information on when and where and how the novels were written. There are pictures of early editions too!

What makes this book is the emphasis on all aspects of Dickens life. In addition to sections about the social activism in which Dickens partook, there are also sections on other aspects of his life-his book tours, speeches, love interests, and the magazines that propelled him to super stardom in the 1800s.

The overall effect is a book full of wonderful information about the life and legacy of one of the world's greatest authors. Dickens did a lot for literature and this book highlights every aspect of that life!

Happy Birthday Charles!

You can find a copy of this one at any major bookstore! I first spotted it at my local Barnes and Noble. I'm sure that with his birthday celebrations this month there are tons of other Dickens themed books being highlighted in bookstores. Let me know if there is another great Dickens book I need to check out or add to my TBR list!


  1. Oh, this is gorgeous! Adding to my wish list...

  2. Amazing book - so interactive and my love of Dickens will only grow with it in my greedy hands! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

  3. That looks like such a pretty book! I must resist - I have Claire Tomalin's biography yet and Our Mutual Friend to finish.

    I like Dickens. I really enjoyed Great Expectations is always surprises me to find that it is it seems one of his most popular, but least liked!

  4. Oh my gosh, I must get my hands on this! Like you, Dickens and I have had a love/hate relationship, but it's far more love than hate. When I was in London I visited his home/museum and got to see the original of the painting you show at the bottom of your post. I love that one.

  5. Oh, wow, that looks like a lovely book. All those inserts! Illustrations! I may have to look for it the next time I go to the bookstore.

  6. I admit I'm not much of a Dickens fan, but I've only read two of his novels (Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol). I plan to read A Tale of Two Cities this year.

    As soon as I saw this post, I immediately thought of that unfinished painting that you included at the end. I was so happy to see it! Even though I don't love Dickens, I still love that picture. What's the name of it (and who painted it, do you know)? I've been hoping to find a place that sells it in poster form or something.

  7. Oh, come on. I'm a college student, I can't afford to be tempted by every single book in existence. Why are you tempting me, Allie? *hides in a corner and sulks*
    This is gorgeous. I love the Dickens I have read and I can't wait to tackle more of his work.

  8. This looks gorgeous. I love the fonts and I'm a sucker for inserts!

  9. This looks INCREDIBLE!! There needs to be a book like this on every classic author. :)

  10. What an amazing find! Must. Buy. Now.

    I'm also dying to get my hands on the Claire Tomalin's new biography.

  11. I bought this one but I'm not opening it until his birthday ... only a few more days! I'm so excited!

  12. Come on, Allie, that's just not fair! This morning I counted how I many books I have bought over the past few weeks because I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO READ THEM and which are still untouched on my shelves. There are 28. TWENTY-EIGHT! I simply have no time at the moment, but I keep buying new books.
    It's really mean of you to make me add another one!

    Okay, resistance broken, off to Amazon! :D

  13. wow, that is a gorgeous looking book, sounds fascinating. Off to see if my library has it (I'm too cheap to buy a fancy book these days!)

  14. Wow what an amazing book. I must have that! I think Dickens might become one of my favorite authors - just need to read some more of his works before I can say so for certain. (I've read Copperfield, Hard Times, Christmas Carol and Edwin Drood).
    On a sidenote - anyone know how the Peter Ackroyd biography is?