NSWDS October 2018 meeting

Our October meeting, another well attended and interesting one, was opened by President Louise Owens. Louise spoke about the forthcoming conference – Boz in Oz: Charles Dickens’ Colonial Connections – which is now sold out. However our forthcoming Christmas lunch, to be held in conjunction with our Australian Brontë Association friends, are still available with bookings closing on 23 November 2018.

Voting forms for the 2019 Book of the Year were handed out and the 2019 program was discussed plus our forthcoming Seaside Weekend, to be held in Manly on 18-19 May 2019.

Vice President Walter Mason read from our Book of the Year The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit which, as it was related to the joys of eating a banquet, put us in mind of our forthcoming lunch!

Member Anne Burns spoke about her recent acquisition, Charles Dickens: The Dickens Bicentenary 1812 – 2012 by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, Dickens’ great-great-great granddaughter. Produced in association with the Charles Dickens Museum, London, it follows Dickens from early childhood, including an intimate look at what he was like as a husband, father, friend and employer; at his longing to be an actor, his travels across North America, his year spent living in Italy and his great love of France. It introduces Dickens’s fascinating family and his astonishing circle of friends, and we discover when and how life and real-life personalities were imitated in his art. Anne drew our attention to many of the illustrations in this excellent book.

Photos by Shane Rozario – https://shanerozario.com/

We were then introduced to our speaker Jennifer Ide, the Senior tour guide at Gad’s Hill Place which was Dickens’ last and favourite home between 1856 – 1870 in Higham, Kent. Jennifer is a member of the Chatham branch of the Dickens Fellowship and has attended many of the London meetings. Her illustrated talk gave us a great introduction to Gad’s Hill House as she explained that despite the fact that Dickens’ years there were the most difficult and turbulent of his life his joy of living never faded.  Initially moving there in the Summer of 1857 with seven sons and two daughters – aged between five and twenty one years old – by 1858 he had separated from his wife Catherine. Nevertheless Jennifer explained that his time spent there was full, productive, and he still had energy enough to enjoy an active social life with family, friends and neighbours of the village of Higham. Jennifer also spoke  about the ‘Charles Dickens’ rose which was bred by the highly regarded amateur breeder Ronnie Rawlins and launched at the Hampton Court Flower Show in July 2016. While sales of the rose help raise funds for the development of a public museum, visitor centre and rose garden at Gad’s Hill Place it unfortunately cannot be imported here.

Finally Geoff Usher gave his usual limerick in honour of Jennifer Ide while Walter Mason thanked Jennifer for her very interesting talk. Finally, after a voting tie, American Notes & Pictures from Italy  were the eventual winners of the Book of the Year vote.

Photos by Shane Rozario – https://shanerozario.com/

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