August was another well attended meeting as 60 members and friends gathered to hear Vice President Walter Mason talk about our Book of the Year Oliver Twist.
President Louise Owens began the meeting by recalling the wonderful Dickens Fellowship International Conference, held in Carrara Italy, which ten of our members attended. We were then shown the PowerPoint Presentation, advertising the October 2018 conference Boz in Oz: Charles Dickens’ Colonial Connections, which will take place in Sydney and which was shown at the AGM during the Carrara conference.
Sheila Emery gave the ‘Show and Tell’ session, having brought her ‘Charles Dickens and his Novels’ 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle as well as a Dickens head of Uriah Heep which Sheila and her husband Robert had purchased around 50 years ago when they were first married and before they migrated to Australia in 1968. The chalkware models of various Dickens characters were made by Bossons of Congleton, Cheshire in the UK and while the company closed down in December 1996 you can still find various Dickens heads for sale on Ebay.
Walter focused his Oliver Twist talk on the the helpless orphan and victimised Victoria child, a popular idea that continues to have powerful cultural currency into the twenty first century. Walter explored the reasons why Dickens wrote his novel, how it was received at the time of its release and how it helped to bring about changes in the way children were treated. The book’s various afterlives, especially as a famous piece of musical theatre, no doubt helped to showcase Dickens story even if, as Walter pointed out, it has changed our perception of what the story actually is all about. A lively and interesting Q & A session followed.
The meeting finished with Geoffrey Usher giving us one of his legendary limericks before those who could stayed on and enjoyed lunch together.