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Christmas with Dickens – A Talk by David and Jenny Peet

Monday 24 November 2014, 23:57
By John Baxter

Charles Dickens and David Peet

David Peet has a special interest in Charles Dickens stretching back to his work around the Law Courts in London and his knowledge of the areas Dickens knew and wove into his works. In this talk he is focusing on the way Dickens has treated the celebration of Christmas and he will be bringing this alive with a series of readings performed by himself and his wife Jenny who is also a writer and lecturer.

This talk to Wincanton Musuem & History Society on Thursday 27th November at 7.30pm in Wincanton Memorial Hall, illustrated by readings from Dickens, should be a great Yuletide celebration not to be missed.

So expect “A Christmas Carol”, “Pickwick Papers” and no doubt much more. Entrance £5, £2 for members. As always this includes refreshments and a great opportunity to meet other friends and Wincantonians.


Posts: 1
David and Jenny's talk on Dickens
Reply #1 on : Mon December 01, 2014, 19:26:42
David and Jenny Peet provided the Museum and History Society with an excellent and seasonally appropriate talk made even more memorable by Jenny’s readings from Dickens. David pointed out that while Dickens did not invent Christmas in its modern sense, in his many references to it he certainly popularised and encouraged its celebration on a near universal scale. He did this by focusing not on the story of the, birth of Jesus but on the celebration of family in the sharing of a Christmas feast, a feast that would be as open to the least fortunate members of the extended family as to the most prosperous.
David explained how Charles’ father had been an inveterate party-giver to the extent that his extravagance brought him to bankruptcy and a spell in the Marshalsea, the debtors prison. He also described how the young Charles was encouraged to perform by singing and reciting poems at some of these parties, something which stimulated in him a love of performance which never left him. Here his visits to Somerset and his great friend in Sherborne brought about a key change in his life. He was invited to give a reading from his own work to the Sherborne Literary Society where his three hour rendition of “A Christmas Carol” was such a hit that he resolved to set off around the country to repeat it. In the end, when he took these performances as far as the United States David explained that he was able to make far more money than the authorship of his wildly popular books ever gave him. This was because the law of copyright was undeveloped here and did not operate in the US, so his work was widely plagiarised or simply reprinted unauthorised, with no royalties coming back to him.
David ended by reminding us that while Dicken’s own family life was a troubled one, he did his best for his ten children and the descriptions he gave of workhouse child exploitation, dreadful boarding schools, the way the law worked and the debtors prison all resulted in real political change because of the way he influenced public opinion.

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