Charles Dickens and the North East


Charles DickensCharles Dickens (1812-1870) was one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era and his works remain widely read. As a writer, performer, and social critic his work was highly popular during his lifetime. Dickens' first literary success came in 1836 with the serial publication of The Pickwick Papers; within a few years he became an international celebrity.

Charles Dickens' Links with the North East

Dickens and his illustrator, Hablot Browne, came to Barnard Castle on 2nd February 1838, whilst researching his 3rd novel, Nicholas Nickleby; He stayed at the King's Head Inn (later renamed the illustration from Nicholas NicklebyCharles Dickens) and visited Shaw's Academy in Bowes, a very harsh boarding school academy, providing inspiration for the novel. He also stayed at the Morritt Arms in Greta Bridge.

In the early 1850s Dickens organised his own traveling theatre group in which he acted; undertaking extensive tours of the country over the years. These tours included visits to County Durham and Northumberland (then including Newcastle); some of these visits included: 27th August 1852, when 'Not So Bad As We Seem' and 'Mr Nightingale’s Diary' were performed at the Assembly Rooms in Newcastle; and at the Lyceum Theatre in Sunderland the following night. In his great national tour of 1858 Dickens gave readings, including 'A Christmas Carol' at Central Hall, Darlington on 21st September 1858, and in the New Town Hall, Durham on the following day. From Durham, Dickens walked 13 miles to perform at the Theatre Royal, Sunderland. Charles DickensThen on to Newcastle, staying at the Station Hotel, before performing at the Town Hall in the Bigg Market. (Source: Keith Proud, Northern Echo, 2011).

From 1857 Dickens had a long standing romance with actress Nelly Ternan; whose parents were popular entertainers in the Newcastle stage and lived at 53 Westgate Street (now part of Westgate Road) and later at 113 Pilgrim Street. On one of his tours, Dickens stayed at 98 Pilgrim Street – The Queen’s Head. He described his Newcastle audience as:

“An unusually tender and sympathetic audience, while their comic perception is quite up to the high London average. A finer audience there is not in England and I suppose them to be a specially earnest people, for while they can laugh till they shake the roof, they have a very unusual sympathy with what is pathetic or passionate.”

In 1861,Dickens did solo readings at the Music Hall on Nelson Street, Newcastle, at Sunderland, and in the King’s Arms Assembly Rooms, Berwick-on-Tweed. On a later tour and performing  in Newcastle in 1867, Dickens took an excursion to Tynemouth, of which he wrote in a letter:

"We escaped to Tynemouth for a two hours’ sea walk. There was a high wind blowing and a magnificent sea running. Large vessels were being towed in and out over the stormy bar with prodigious waves breaking on it, and spanning the restless uproar of the waters was a quiet rainbow of transcendent beauty. The scene was quite wonderful. We were in the full enjoyment of it when a heavy sea caught us, knocked us over and in a moment drenched us and filled even our pockets."  (Source: Keith Proud, Northern Echo, 2011).

 

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Charles Dickens plaque

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Earliest Dickens film - The Death of Poor Joe (1901)

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DICKENS MURAL IN THE MORRITT ARMS HOTEL

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Uneasy Dreams: The Life of Mr Pickwick (1970) - extract

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HAVING A BALL IN THE MORRITT ARMS HOTEL

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045436:No Title available

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THE MORRITT ARMS HOTEL

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Dickens at Barnard Castle

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Dickens at Barnard Castle

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from http://www.independent.co.u...
Dickens wrote - and drank - here
- Joe Gilbert, The Independent, 27 September 1998. "TUCKED into a loop of the broad-flowing Tees, the landscape around Barnard Castle does not look like the setting for sadism or violence ...

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from http://www.thenorthernecho....
http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/history/9420054.Charles_Dickens____the_world_s_first_pop_idol/
- Article by Keith Proud, Northern Echo, 14th December 2011. "Arguably the greatest writer ever known, Charles Dickens was also feted as a fine stage performer... and North audiences were among ...

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from http://www.chroniclelive.co...
Descendent of Charles Dickens reveals North East link to novel
- Article by Liz Walker, Chronicle, 25th February 2013. "A DESCENDENT of classic author Charles Dickens has told how his clandestine affair with a North East actress was the driving force ...

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Charles Dickens [front]

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Charles Dickens at St George's Hall - 28th December 1854

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Mr Pickwick and boy

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The Two Wellers

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Charles Dickens, 1867
- Photo by Jeremiah Gurney, 1867

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Bowes
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Old Assembly Rooms
- Designed by architect William Newton, this Georgian building was completed in 1776. The building was funded by members of the nobility, gentry and prominent citizens who raised £6,700 to establish ...
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Pilgrim Street
- Pilgrim Street was one of the most important streets in medieval Newcastle. William Gray's Chorographia (1649) described Pilgrim Street as "the longest and fairest street in the Town. In it ...
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... around Berwick on Tweed ... visitor, Charles Dickens.

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Image from page 8 of "Dicken's works" (1890)

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"The first class in english spelling and philosophy."

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""Very glad to make your acquaintance, miss," said squeers, raising his hat an inch or two."

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""Wretch," rejoined Nicholas fiercely, ..."

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Charles Dickens and the Magic Lantern

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Charles Dickens and Silent Cinema

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A Christmas Carol (1914) - extract - Charles Dickens | BFI National Archive

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Charles Dickens: Literature's great rock star

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North East of England Branch of the Dickens Fellowship
- "This is the website of our Branch and we are a group of local people who enjoy reading and discussing the life and work of Charles Dickens, 1812-1870. We are ...

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Historian claims S, Tyne link to Dickens classic
- Monday 23 January 2012. "COULD Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations have been inspired by a South Tyneside tale of heartbreak?...It is thought the spinster’s tragic tale was inspired ...

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