Thursday, February 2, 2012

The True Story Behind Charles Dickens' Visit to Toronto May 4-6th, 1842...

Charles Dickens age 30
portrait by Francis Alexander
His impression of Toronto upon arrival:
"The country round this town being very flat,
 is bare of scenic interest; 
but the town itself is full of life and motion, 
bustle, business and improvement." 
- American Notes, 1842
Tick-tock-tick-tock... Tuesday February 7th, 2012 is fast-approaching... the literary world is in a tizzy as it will be Charles John Huffam Dickens' bicentenary birthday!  Imagine the amount of excitement in 1841 when the British author, Charles Dickens announced that he will tour most of the major cities of United States and Canada in 1842. The news traveled sans help from social media marketing like Facebook, Twitter, or e-mails. One of my favourite musings along the theme walks involves an old childhood TV show. What if we could jump into Doctor Who's Time Machine, go back in time to 1842, to accompany Dickens on his visit of the four Canadian cities recorded in his travel book, American Notes -  Halifax, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal! In my prior post, Charles Dickens lands on Canadian Soil First, I mentioned how Halifax, Nova Scotia had the honour of being the real beginning of his North American tour on January 20th, 1842, and not Boston as many academics allude to. The Nova Scotia Archives have been posting the province's historical connections one tweet on Twitter.  Would Charles Dickens be amused or bemused with England being so abuzz with his bicenten- ary birthday. If you happen to be in London, you can pay homage to Charles Dickens at the Museum of London's special Dickens and London exhibit which explores the author links to the English capital (now until June 10th, 2012). You could also drop into the Charles Dickens Museum which holds the world's most important Dickens collections. If you feel inclined to walk in his footsteps on a Friday afternoon, there's the Charles Dickens' London walking tour with one of the best and oldest company, Original London Walks. If you venture to Portsmouth, his birthplace, you'll find there's even the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum What about Toronto? Well, this Literary Detective and guide is excited about sharing one of Toronto's best kept secrets as in 2012 while participating in not one, but two celebrations! First we're going to celebrate on Saturday February 4th, in advance of the actual date for his 200th birthday 2012. I will personally conduct the In the Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 Walk. I will read excerpts from my auto- graphed copy of his book, American Notes. This rare copy I bought from an antiquarian shop in Ottawa (none to be found in Toronto), has been autographed by his great-great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens when he came to perform A Christmas Carol in Toronto in 2000. By the way, 2000 was the auspicious year when I launched this fabulous Literary Detective walk!  The second celebration will be the 170th anniversary of his Toronto visit that took place May 4-6th 1842. For the first time in 12 years, I will run a tour about the time he arrived! (see Schedule below) Here's food for thoughts - we will have some juicy discussions about the real purpose or reasons behind his visit to Toronto. Charles Dickens told no one - except his publishers Chapman & Hall - the real purpose behind his 6-month visit to North America in 1842 from Portsmouth, England on the Britannia accompanied by his wife, Catharine, her maid Anne Brown, and his secretary, George Washington Putnam (read his account of the 1842 American visit: Four Months with Charles Dickens, an article he wrote for Atlantic Monthly in October 1870, shortly after Dickens' death). You can find out the real reasons when you attend one of our In the Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 Walks...

2012 In The Footsteps of Dickens: Toronto 1842 Schedule at a Glance:
* Sat. February 4th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM ** Early birthday walk **
* Sat. March 10th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM   ** March Break** 
* Sat. April 14th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM
** Fri. May 4th  6:30 - 9:00 PM * Marking arrival in Toronto same time *
** Sat. May 5th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM * 170th anniversary walk * 
** Sun. May 6th 3:00-5:30 PM * 170th anniversary of actual visit & departure from Toronto *
* Sat. June 9th, 2012 **commemorate death June 9th, 1870** 
* Sat. July 7th, 2012 3:00-5:30 PM
* Sat. August 4th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM
* Sat. September 1st , 2012 3:00-5:30 PM
Clues to a site he visited while in Toronto! 
* Question to mull over, on your way to one of these special walks with us... *
If we could use Doctor Who's Time Machine to bring Charles Dickens, 
as honourary guest along In The Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 walks, 
what would Dickens think of his second visit of Toronto in 2012,  and what would he participate in? 
Guess who he met at the dinner party hosted in his honour?
"Walk and be happy. Walk and be healthy." 
~ Charles Dickens (b. February 7, 1812 - d. June 9, 1870)

1 comment:

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