Charles Dickens made headlines this month after two of his novels, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, were chosen as selections for Oprah Winfrey’s high-profile book club. Whether or not you plan to read along with Oprah, here are a few ways to get into the Dickens spirit this month in London, New York, and Washington, D.C.
CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS VICTORIAN-STYLE
The Charles Dickens Museum in London is going all out with holiday festivities, including events on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Stop by to see the house decked in greenery and decorations as described by the writer and enjoy mulled wine and minced pies, learn about Victorian Christmas traditions, listen to readings of Dickens’ tales, and more. Charity readings of A Christmas Carol will take place at 6:30 p.m. tonight and on December 21. Visit DickensMuseum.com for details on times and ticket prices.
MARVEL AT A CHRISTMAS CAROL’S MOMENT OF CREATION
Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Mr. Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, and the other colorful characters in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were created during a six-week flurry of activity in late 1843. The manuscript, which Dickens had bound in red Moroccan leather and presented as a gift to his solicitor, was acquired by financier Pierpont Morgan in the 1800s. The spectacular volume is put on display each year during the holiday season at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. Also on view is the first edition A Christmas Carol (1843), open to the title page and an engraved, hand-colored frontispiece of Mr. Fezziwig’s ball (at left). See Dickens’ handiwork through January 9, 2001. TheMorgan.org
WATCH THE DRAMA UNFOLD
A Christmas Carol is being staged at “America’s most famous theatre” in Washington, D.C. until January 2, 2011. Showgoers can catch a performance of Charles Dickens’ spirited tale at Ford’s Theatre and also extend some generosity to those in need. The theatre has partnered with So Others Might Eat, an interfaith, community-based organization in D.C. that offers assistance to the homeless such as housing and job training. At curtain calls during the production’s run, cast members are collecting monetary donations. Tiny Tim would be proud. FordsTheatre.org
[photos top to bottom © Oprah.com, Flickr/Matt From London, Dickens Museum, Morgan Library & Museum, and Ford’s Theatre]