Around seventy members and guests gathered for our April meeting on a beautiful Sydney autumn day. Member Kim Hapgood had produced booklets detailing the illustrations and the wrapper for the serialised numbers of our Book of the Year The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit which were placed on everyone’s chair prior to the meeting.
President Louise Owens began by talking about the forthcoming October conference Boz in Oz: Charles Dickens’ Colonial Connections encouraging members who hadn’t already done so to make their early bird bookings before the cut-off point on 1 May 2018.
Our member Vasudha Chandra gave the reading from our 2018 Book of the Year The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit.
The ‘Show and Tell’ Dickens memorabilia section was given by Kim Hapgood who brought along some illustrations George Cruikshank did for Dickens’ books. Included in items she displayed was a copy of Charles Dickens’ Mrs Orange, one of the four-part holiday romances for children written for Dickens’ US publishers with illustrations by Robert Stewart Sherrifs. Kim’s final memorabilia showpiece were some of the Players cigarette cards featuring Dickens’ characters illustrated by Joseph Clayton Clark.
President Louise Owens then introduced our main speaker Isabel Deeble, a NSWDS member and international speaker, who discussed Dickens’ public readings. Noting that his first public reading was of A Christmas Carol in 1853, and that it was also his last one twelve years later, Isabel recalled Dickens telling his audience it was his “affectionate farewell”. Isabel discussed how popular these readings proved to be – “a new meaning of my books” – with 5,000 people queueing in New York to buy tickets. She noted that such readings gave rise to the first ticket tout – a person who buys up tickets for an event to later re-sell them at a higher price. After Isabel’s talk we were entertained by Geoff Usher who gave us two readings from A Christmas Carol; one from Mr Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball and the other from the Cratchits’ Christmas Dinner. A fitting end to a very interesting talk.
The presentation to Isabel of a potted geranium and Book Token were given by Vice President Walter Mason which was followed by Geoff Usher reading of his now legendary limerick. Finally Louise invited those who wished to stay for lunch to do so and enjoy some more Dickensian Fellowship.