An Idea Is Like A Ghost
Today people in the UK are celebrating the 200th birthday of the great author Charles Dickens.
Dickens himself explained an aspect of his ingenious creative process when he said:
An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.
Mr. Dickens Collects
Speaking of harvesting ideas, I bought a book many years ago that showed the lists that he kept, including unusual names that he noticed as he was walking around. At times he used some of this material for his books.
As John Camden-Hotten explained in his book Charles Dickens: The Story of His Life published in 2001:
It is said that when he saw a strange or odd name on a shop-board, or in walking through a village or country town, he entered it in his pocket-book, and added it to his reserve list.
For example, considering the unusual names that Dickens used in his novels – who can forget ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ featured in A Christmas Carol which was first published by Chapman & Hall only six days before Christmas in 1843.
We featured a quotation from that book here on one of our Christmas ecards:
Today’s Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey
Back to our celebration today for Mr. Dickens: Jill Lawless reported for the Associated Press that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla joined the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, many of Dickens’ descendants, a group of dignitaries, and the actor Ralph Fiennes at a memorial service today in London’s Westminster Abbey.
Prince Charles also laid a wreath of white roses and snowdrops on the writer’s grave in Poet’s Corner, while two of Dickens’ youngest descendants added two small white posies to the floral tribute.
Dear Mr. Dickens
Claire Tomalin who wrote a biography of Dickens published in 2011 called Charles Dickens: A Life wrote the novelist a letter for this special day.
Called A letter to Charles Dickens on his 200th birthday it was published in the Guardian today and you can find it here.
Many thanks for your letter, Ms. Tomalin, and for this ending of yours with which so many of us agree:
Mr Dickens, you are still, and always will be, the Inimitable.
Many happy returns.
Charles Dickens: The Story of His Life by John Canden Hotten 2001, University Press of the Pacific
Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin 2011, Viking Press
Material On The Web
Charles Dickens’ Quotes BrainyQuote
Britain marks Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday by Jill Lawless Associated Press
A letter to Charles Dickens on his 200th birthday by Claire Tomalin The Guardian