Gerald Charles Dickens returned to Worcester as part of a world tour that began with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace! Dickens retraced the historic steps that Charles Dickens made during his famous American tours—both in 1842 and 1868—that brought the word famous author to Worcester, Massachusetts. The state’s most notable organizations came together to honor the historical importance of Dickens’ visit. Dickens Returns! was a full weekend celebrating the world’s most important literary figure with performances, lectures, tours, and exhibits!
Thank you to everyone who participated in a historic event! As the world celebrated Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday, so did everyone in Worcester County. A huge thank you to all of the weekend’s sponsors who made the weekend possible: Worcester Historical Museum, John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Richard Carr & Associates, United Bank, Braley & Wellington Insurance Agency; our media sponsors, WSRS, WTAG, and Telegram & Gazette; and supporting sponsors Beechwood Hotel and Niche Hospitality Group.
Ranger Walkabout: “The Air of A Newly Lighted Fire: Worcester In The Time Of Dickens”
|The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor invites you to join National Park Service Ranger Valerie Paul for a walking tour to explore a “tale of two cities” – Worcester, as it was when Charles Dickens made his historic visits in the nineteenth century, and the Worcester of today. The walking portion of the program will be followed by a private tour of Mechanics Hall, the very place where Dickens read from “A Christmas Carol” in 1868.|
|John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Thursday, August 30th
“The Engaging and Enduring Mr. Dickens: Highlights from the Fellman Dickens Collections.”
|Exhibition: The Engaging and Enduring Mr. Dickens: Highlights from the Fellman Dickens Collections.
Reception: Talk by Kristin Boudreau “‘A Pretty New England Town’: Dickens in Worcester in the Infancy of Industrialization.”The exhibition, through a selection of material from Gordon Library’s Fellman Dickens Collection, highlights Dickens’s serial and parts publication format, Dickens illustrators, and the Dickensian themes of Christmas, coaching, social issues, and family. The talk by Kristin Boudreau, head of WPI’s Humanities and Arts Department, will focus on the industrial Worcester that Dickens encountered on his visits here.
|George C. Gordon Library
Thursday, September 20th
A Christmas Carol
|A Dickens returns to the stage of historic Mechanics Hall for the first time since 1868. Gerald Charles Dickens will reclaim the stage to perform his great-great grandfather’s classic tale, A Christmas Carol. Dickens adopts different voices, expressions and mannerisms to portray each of the story’s twenty-six characters in this acclaimed one-man show. Show time approximately one hour and is not recommended for children under the age of 8 years old.|
Friday, September 21
Dickens Literature, Stories, and Historic performances
|Gerald Charles Dickens took the stage in the historic Dickensian-era stone mill in Sutton where he presented two one-man performances—each of two stories—to an intimate crowd. This performance included excerpts from:
The Republic of My Imagination — During Dickens’ tour of America in 1842 he was left disappointed with his expectation. Although his American journey was left relatively undocumented, there were multiple letters that were found. This performance speaks upon Dickens’ journey, including his famous letter home to his friend William Macready stating, “this is not the republic I came to see; this is not the republic of my imagination.”
Oliver Twist— This is Victorian theatre at its most dramatic. Most of Charles Dickens readings were safe, well known passages from his novels. In 1869 he introduces Sikes and Nancy to his repertoire. When Dickens performed what he called “The Murder” he judges the evening’s success by the number of woman who faint in horror. Today it has lost none of its punch.
A Child’s Journey with Dickens — When Dickens returned to America in 1868 he was old, in poor health and in constant fear for his safety following a narrow escape in a rail disaster a few years earlier. At the heart of this show is a young girl’s memory of meeting the great man on a train journey in New England, and Dickens’ enchantment with both her boldness and innocence. An enchanting tale for all ages!
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby— Inspired by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 8-hour of Nicholas Nickleby, Gerald’s version packs the plot into just 1 hour. Travelling with Nicholas across the country we meet some of Charles Dickens’ greatest characters: Wackford Squeers, Smike, Vincent Crummles, Newman Noggs, Sir Mulberry Hawk and many others. Nicholas Nickleby shows Charles Dickens off to his theatrical best.
|Vaillancourt Folk Art
Saturday, September 2nd
Why Worcester and Why “A Christmas Carol” in September?
Charles Dickens spent two occasions in mid-1800s where he traveled from England to America to promote his books. Because A Christmas Carol was one of his favorite, and most popular books at the time, he had decided that it made perfect sense to read it on his American tour. As he celebrated his 30th birthday, Dickens found himself in Worcester. Considering A Christmas Carol to be more of a ghost story than Holiday story, he had no hesitation to perform it to a sold out crowd during his March visit in 1868 to Mechanics Hall. The reviews proved that his choice was perfect.Vaillancourt Folk Art, the American-made Christmas company, is no stranger to Dickens. Known worldwide for both their high quality products and celebrating Christmas year round, they are most interested in the recapturing the historic moment of when Charles Dickens stepped onto the Mechanics Hall stage.
In The News
- Dickens with a twist at Mechanics Hall – Richard Duckett for the Telegram & Gazette
- Descendent of Charles Dickens to Perform in Worcester – Joe Parello for GoLocalTV
- Worcester Businesses Work Together To Bring A Weekend Celebration in Worcester! - Press Release
CharterTV3 Looks At Dickens’ Worcester Visit
Listen to Jim Polito on WTAG as the Dickens Returns! weekend is announced!
Not local? Search for Dickens’ Performances near you! from Byers’ Choice!