To Dickens on His 200th Birthday
My boyfriend gave me Charles Dickens by Michael Slater this weekend. The first thing I did was check the index for Henry James. There was one entry and in following it up I found that a young James wrote a negative review (which, Slater notes, Dickens probably never read) in The Nation for Our Mutual Friend. I was also interested to read that there was a woman in Covent Garden who inspired Miss Havisham. The twelve year-old Dickens would’ve seen her attired in a wedding gown during the long walk to and from his work at a blacking factory, where he worked alongside someone named Bob Fagin.
Another Dickens biographer, Claire Tomalin, and writer Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) spoke about Dickens on today’s Morning Edition. Egan mentions that her favorites are Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield. (At the moment mine are Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, and Little Dorrit. In middle school, I was obsessed with A Tale of Two Cities.)