Our 2019 Weekend by the Seaside


Saturday, 18th May:

The Dickensian Child: Angels, Innocence & Early Death – Walter Mason

How did Dickens contribute to English myths of childhood? Many of the children in his books like Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Little Nell and Poor Jo were all famous characters in the Victorian popular imagination, and all unified by their innocence and suffering. This talk will look at some of Dickens’ key child characters and examine how Dickens engaged with ideas of the child in his fiction. Walter Mason surveys prevailing attitudes towards children in the nineteenth century and how children were presented in the theatre, literature and religion of the period.

The Victorian Way of Death -Mourning Jewellery in Dickens World – Anne Schofield

The tradition of wearing mourning jewellery goes back many centuries, but reached its peak in Victorian England with the death of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Albert in 1861. She worn mourning dress and jewellery until her own death. Anne Schofield, who has collected and dealt in antique jewellery from her shop in Queen Street, Woollahra for many years and who speaks and writes on jewellery, will talk about mourning jewellery in Dickens’ time.

Heroes & Scoundrels: My favourite and least favourite Dickens’ Characters – panel chaired by Catherine du Peloux Menagé

Speakers and members of the NSW Dickens Society will discuss their favourite and least favourite characters from Dickens. They may, of course, prefer scoundrels to the angelic. Stand by for some vigorous debate!

Victorian Breakfasts & Afternoon Teas – Charmaine O’Brien

Breakfast and afternoon tea were arguably most representative of Victorian domestic life. In this talk writer and culinary historian, Charmaine O’Brien, takes us into the kitchen and dining room of a well-to-do Victorian family, perhaps one with a strong resemblance to the Dickens’ household, to explore the rituals and nuances of cooking and eating breakfast and morning tea. What does this tell us about Victorian society and culture more widely? Of course, there will be reference to food in Dickens’ work, and to Catherine Dickens’ menu book!

The Great Expectations of the Children of Charles Dickens – Lucinda Hawksley

Charles and Catherine Dickens had ten children and their individual stories are as varied and remarkable as their father’s novels. Although one child died in infancy, the remaining nine survived to adulthood. Of the seven boys, only two stayed living in England: Alfred and Edward were sent to Australia; Walter and Frank to India, with Frank going on to Canada where he would be hailed as a hero; and Sydney joined the navy at the age of 13. Remaining in England, Charley became a tea merchant, a bankrupt and a magazine editor and Henry became a celebrated barrister, a KC and Common Sergeant of London. Of the two surviving daughters Mary (‘Mamie’) lived a dutiful life as her father’s housekeeper, but after his death her life became shrouded in scandalous mystery. Katey became a highly celebrated artist and, as the ‘beautiful Miss Dickens’ an artist’s model; she married twice, both times to artists.


Sunday, 19th May:

All that money can buy – Kaye Remington

Victorian housing went through enormous changes during Dickens’ lifetime. As Dickens has so vividly illustrated, for the urban poor, the industrial revolution resulted in increasing squalor in overcrowded cities that lacked the infrastructure to cope with mass migration from the countryside. In contrast, by mid-century, the burgeoning middle classes could increasingly afford to imitate the very rich. Particularly for those with money to spend, every aspect of life changed. This presentation will explore the revolution in housing design that occurred throughout Dickens’ lifetime, for those with the money to buy!

Katey: Dickens’s Artist Daughter – Lucinda Hawksley

Katey, the ‘favourite child’ of Charles Dickens, became a celebrity in her own right, as an artist (and as an artist’s model). Nicknamed ‘Lucifer Box’ by her father, because of her furious and fiery temper, Katey grew up to become friends with such luminaries as William Thackeray, John Everett Millais, George Bernard Shaw and J.M.Barrie. Having survived her parents’ angry marital separation, she married twice – the first time to a Pre-Raphaelite artist and the second time to an Italian-born High Victorian artist. She gained fame for her brilliant portraits of children, exhibiting at the most prestigious galleries, including London’s Royal Academy, and receiving constant commissions – yet today her name is almost entirely forgotten. Lucinda Hawksley brings Katey back into existence, revealing how she lived her life to the full, wrote hilariously revealing letters and how she challenges all our 21st-century preconceptions of Victorian women.

My Favourite Dickens Books – panel chaired by Walter Mason

Speakers and members of the NSW Dickens Society will discuss their favourite and least favourite Dickens books. This is sure to generate some fascinating conversations!

Keeping it in the Family: Books & Dickens’ Family Heritage – Professor Chris Browne

We all recognise Charles Dickens as the author of many great books. Most of us know less about the books in Dickens’ personal library, the books his family owned, and the books that his descendants authored and owned. Is it possible to own a book that was once owned by Charles Dickens? Can we find and collect books once owned by his children and grandchildren? How can you find a book signed by any of Charles Dickens’ descendants? How many of Dickens’ descendants have become authors themselves? Chris Browne will share with you his journey in trying to answer these and other questions that relate to the books of the Dickens family at large.

Pre-Raphaelite Muses & Wives – Kate Forsyth interview by Catherine du Peloux Menagé

Kate Forysth’s latest book Beauty in Thorns is the story of Pre-Raphaelite muses and wives. She will talk to Catherine du Peloux Menagé about women as muses and wives, but also about as artists in their own right, about the different artistic milieu of Victorian England and about artistic or literary families like Dickens’ own family, of course. Please note that these details were correct at the time of printing and may be subject to change without notification.



Professor Chris Browne – A former medical academic at Monash University, Professor Chris Browne has been a serious book collector for over 45 years. His personal library contains over 11,000 books with an emphasis on 19th and 20th century English literature and children’s books. He acquired his first Charles Dickens first edition in 1973, just before he left the UK to migrate to Australia. Chris is in demand for talks on a range of topics related to books, book collecting, literature, printing and book illustration. He is a Melbourne Rare Book Week Ambassador.

Kate Forsyth – A Dickens-loving storyteller who always wanted to be a writer. She has written stories and poems since she first learned to write. Her first novel was written at the age of seven and since then she has written forty books for children and adults which have sold more than a million copies. Recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 15 Novelists, Kate has a doctorate in fairy tale studies and is an accredited master storyteller. Her Rapunzel retelling Bitter Greens won the 2015 ALA Award for Best Historical Fiction. Kate’s latest novel is Beauty in Thorns, the story of Edward Burne-Jones’ famous painting of Sleeping Beauty through the voices of the muses, wives and mistresses of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Kate is working on The Blue Rose, a fairy-tale infused historical novel for adults.

Lucinda Hawksley – Lucinda is the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles and Catherine Dickens. She is an author, art historian, public speaker and broadcaster specialising in literature, art, history and social history from the 19th and 20th Centuries. She is also an award-winning travel writer with a love of the environment. Lucinda is travelling from England to be at our Weekend Away. Her books include Dickens’s Artistic Daughter, Katey, Charles Dickens and His Circle, Dickens and Christmas and The Mystery of Princess Louise; Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter.

Walter Mason – Walter is a travel writer, speaker and lecturer with a special interest in spirituality. He is the author of two successful books of travel memoir, published by Allen & Unwin, Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. With a background in bookselling and publishing, Walter has studied theatre, Chinese, Vietnamese and has an honours degree in English Literature. Walter is Vice-President of the NSW Dickens Society and is much in demand for his talks on Dickens and other writers throughout Sydney. He runs Mindful Writer meditation and creativity courses and journal writing workshops at the NSW Writers’ Centre and throughout Australia.

Charmaine O’Brien – Charmaine has a keen interest in nineteenth century British cooking and eating, particularly in the antipodean colonies. She has written a number of books and papers on Australia’s nineteenth century food history and through her research has discovered one or two interesting Dickens’ related food stories from the colonies she will share. Dr Charmaine O’Brien PhD, Author of The Colonial Kitchen: Australia 1788-1901.

Kaye Remington – Kaye taught History of Architecture and Interiors at the National Institute of Dramatic Art for twenty-six years. She has also initiated and presented Architectural Heritage programs for professionals. Kaye’s doctorate explores architectural innovation in nineteenth century Paris. She has been a visiting scholar at several universities overseas. Now, semi-retired, she continues to lecture at three Australian universities.

Anne Schofield – Anne is a fine antique and period jewellery specialist and speaker and is a Member of the Society of Jewellery Historians and of the Australian Antique and Art Dealer’s Associations. Anne Schofield Antiques was established in 1970 in Queen Street, Woollahra in Sydney and is a mecca for collectors and lovers of beautiful jewellery, selling rare and beautiful antique and Victorian jewellery. Anne is the author of Australian Jewellery 19th and early 20th century and a memoir, Jewels on Queen.



Each day includes all talks on that day, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea Saturday, 18th May $200 Sunday, 19th May @ $200. Places are limited. A limited number of special accommodation rates via the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific will be available for Weekend Away attendees.

Please note all details were correct at the time of printing and may be subject to change without notification.



Please fill in this form and email to louiseo@bigpond.net.au Please note that bookings close 30th April 2019. 


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WOM    Friend    NSW Dickens Society    Online    Other:___________________________

Tickets:  Each day includes all talks on that day, morning tea, lunch & afternoon tea

Saturday, 18th May 2019………………………………………………………………AUD $200 x ___ = $_______

Sunday, 19th May 2019………………………………………..……………….……AUD $200 x ___ = $_______

Total………………………………………………………………………………………………AUD $________

Please scan and send your completed form to louiseo@bigpond.net.au

Payment can be made via Direct Debit to: The NSW Dickens Society Bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia BSB: 06 2166 Account Number: 1022 5576 Address: Level 3, 40 King Street, Sydney NSW, Australia 2000. Please include your name in the reference field and note that we cannot confirm your ticket without your form and without identifying your payment.

For more information, please contact the NSW Dickens Society Treasurer. OR pay by credit card at the conference, Christmas lunch or Saturday meetings

Please note that bookings for Weekend by the Sea will close 30th April 2019.


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