Today is Charles Dickens’ birthday and the State Library of NSW have celebrated by making a big announcement in conjunction with the NSW Dickens Society. Sydney has won the bid to host the Dickens Fellowship Conference, it’s now in its 112th year. Last year was held in Cararra, Italy and the year prior Aberdeen, Scotland. The 2018 conference will be held during Australia’s glorious springtime from October the 25th through to the 30th in Sydney.
The announcement was made in Centennial Park beneath the life-sized statue of Dickens as part of the birthday celebrations that the NSW Dickens Society have arranged. As it turns out, NSW doesn’t just love Dickens, he loves us too. He reportedly encouraged people to move to NSW and sent his two sons to live here. Consequently Charles Dickens holds a special place in our hearts.
When I spoke to Walter Mason, vice-president of the NSW Dickens Society, he commented,
It makes my heart sing that there are still enough people out there sufficiently excited about 19th century literature to make an even like this happen. As part of the organising committee I can tell you that hosting this conference in Australia is a very big deal indeed – we are a small society and a long way from the rest of the world, so the whole thing has been the enormous undertaking. But worth every minute – and our President Louise Owens has already put in hundreds of hours of work over the past few years to make it work, We have a stellar lineup of speakers covering fascinating topics. And what I love about this conference is that it’s NOT for academics and specialists – it is for everyone who loves books, writing and literature. We are all enthusiastic amateurs, and it is in that spirit we have created this event.
Dickens enthusiast and Booker Prize winner Thomas Keneally is heading up the impressive line-up of speakers. He will be discussing his fascination with Dickens oldest son and exploring his life in Australia. Other conference highlights include exploring the Dickens Museum, a trivia night (wine? Yes please), displays in the NSW State Library, and a banquet at Vaucluse House which sounds incredible.
What fabulously exciting news to celebrate Charles Dickens birthday! I have... great expectations for this event. I’ll leave you with some Charles Dickens quotes to warm the rest of your day.