Our second meeting for 2017 was packed to the rafters as 80 NSWDS members and friends gathered to hear Catherine du Peloux Menagé speak about Scents and Smells in the time of Dickens.
But before Catherine’s talk NSWDS President Louise Owens invited member Rodney Pyne to expound on his copy of Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers purchased from the Folio Society. Rodney explained that the first two instalments of Dickens book, published by Chapman and Hall in 1836, were illustrated by Robert Seymour before he committed suicide, a job then taken over by Hablot Knight Browne, also known as Phiz. Rodney spoke about these incidents and Dickens reaction to them.
Then our main speaker Catherine du Peloux Managé, who is a perfume consultant and Director of St Albans Writers’ Festival, began her talk by introducing us to some of the perfumes she had arranged for us all to check out. Explaining that Charles Dickens wrote about a time of rapid industrialisation in Britain, which, while bringing wealth to some also brought misery to many more. Catherine took us on an olfactory tour of the novels of Charles Dickens, from the cesspits of Coketown in Hard Times to unwrapping a steaming Christmas pudding in A Christmas Carol. From the putrid smells of the city to the perfumed scents around cottage doors in the countryside, Catherine showed us how Charles Dickens used scents and smells to evoke class, social injustice, despair and hope. Catherine finished her talk by inviting us all to attend the St Albans Writers’ Festival which will take place from the 8-10 September 2017.
Following Catherine’s talk Vice President Walter Mason presented her with a potted geranium and a book token. The final flourish came when Geoffrey Usher read his now legendary limerick for Catherine.
Meeting over, various attendees stayed on for lunch together to enjoy more Dickensian Fellowship.