Our June meeting proved to be another extremely popular one. Members, friends and visitors filled the room to capacity for a meeting which was presided over by NSWDS Secretary Catherine du Peloux Menagé.
Once again member Kim Hapgood had produced a booklet, entitled Martin Musings, which was placed on everyone’s seat before arrival. Compiled from various sources, the leaflet included Charles Dickens’ own words from his correspondence and made a very interesting read.
The meeting was both ‘topped and tailed’ by our talented and entertaining member Geoff Usher who gave the reading of our Book of the Year The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit to start the meeting and then finished it with his now famous limerick in honour of the main speaker.
The ‘Show and Tell’ Dickens memorabilia section was given by Mark Dunn who had brought along a Royal Doulton Sairey Gamp tea pot. Mark explained how, despite the pleasure such collecting gave him, that since he and Anne had moved into an apartment, he was not able to expand the collection due to space restrictions.
Our Secretary Catherine du Peloux Menagé then introduced Walter Mason who, as well as being NSWDS Vice-President, is a popular speaker on literature, a travel writer and tour guide. Walter’s talk – entitled Martin Chuzzlewit & the lure of America – gave us interesting new insights into Dickens’ novel The Life and Adventures of Chuzzlewit which has always been one of his least-discussed books. Having started to write the novel in 1842, not long after his return from America, and with his marriage just beginning to fall apart, Walter noted that Dickens was depressed and that the public were not enthusiastic about the book. David Lodge – English author and literary critic – thought the novel was too long and too wordy while Forster thought it was a turning point in Dickens’ career. Walter looked at Dickens’ relationship to America, explaining that while his novel was a piece of travel fiction, it gave Dickens the opportunity to express some of his opinions about the United States of America which he was not able to put into his American Notes. All in all Walter gave us so much to think about and his talk demonstrated why he is such a popular and well loved speaker.
While this was a meeting at which no geraniums appeared that didn’t stop members staying for lunch and some Dickensian fellowship when it was brought to a close.