Our last meeting for the year proved to be our most well attended with a total of 58 members and 55 guests. With the room full of that many people there was a real buzz about the place which also resulted in much interest, and sales, for The Old Curiosity Shop (TOCS).
President Louise Owens began the meeting mentioning the sad news of the unexpected death of our member Margaret Deakin who joined the Society about ten years ago. Margaret was also a member of the Australian Brontë Association and the Jane Austen Society of Australia so no doubt many of her literary friends will be attending the funeral.
Louise also mentioned the resignation of our Treasurer Gary Corkill presenting him with a potted geranium as a token of our appreciation for his excellent service to the Society since February 2013 when he became the Society’s Treasurer. Gary will not only be remembered for his work as Treasurer but also for organising – together with Tian Harris, Tourism Moree – a memorable four day visit to Moree in April 2016 where members who attended discovered Edward (Plorn) Dickens Moree connections. Earlier in July 2014, after much research and investigation, Robin Da Costa-Adams (a lateral descendant of Constance) and Gary received permission to restore the unmarked grave in the Box Hill Cemetery, Melbourne of Constance Dickens, Edward (Plorn) Dickens widow. Various members of NSWDS joined Gary for a commemoration at Box Hill’s Le Pine Funerals; the funeral parlour which had conducted Constance Dickens’ funeral over one hundred years prior to our visit. This was followed by a visit to the cemetery to view the grave and recumbant slab made by artist and lettercutter Ian Marr. So we have many reasons to thank Gary Corkill for his efforts on behalf of NSWDS.
The reading for our Book of the Year Oliver Twist was carried out by Natalie Kestecher, recent Presenter and Producer for the ABC Radio National program Pocketdocs who last year worked on a radio piece for the BBC which featured our Vice President Walter Mason.
Louise Owens then introduced our speaker Susan Butler, editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, who spoke about words that have come to us from Dickens and how he compares favourably to Shakespeare. We learnt that while Dickens had a good ear for the language, picking up and using what was current in English in his day, many of the phrases we associate with him came into the English language before Dickens time. Susan also spoke about other writers who have left their mark in the dictionary, such as Norman Lindsay and the poet Les Murray and how we evaluate their legacy. The talk culminated in lively and interesting Q & A session following which Walter Mason expressed thanks on our behalf before presenting Susan with a potted geranium.
Finally it was time to welcome Geoffrey Usher who gave us another of his legendary limericks before those who could stayed on to enjoy a convivial lunch together.
Photos by Anthony Fretwell; http://fretwellphotography.com.au/
We are now all eagerly looking forward to our Christmas lunch on Saturday 2 December, 12 noon to be celebrated with our friends from the Australian Brontë Association. Do join us if you can!