Sunday, 22 January 2012


Celebrations in London to mark Dickens’s 200th Birthday

Wreathlaying Ceremony at Westminster Abbey
Bicentenary Dinner at Mansion House

Photograph: London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens the Charles Dickens Museum and Dickens 2012 are pleased to announce two major events taking place on 7 February 2012, the date of Dickens’s actual birthday.
Wreathlaying Ceremony at Westminster Abbey at 11am. By kind permission of the Dean of Westminster Abbey, a Wreathlaying Ceremony to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens will take place on 7 February 2012. BAFTA® award-winning actor and director Ralph Fiennes (Great Expectations and The Invisible Woman, in production) and acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin(The Invisible WomanThe Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (1991), Charles Dickens: A Life (2011)) will be among the Readers who will gather in Poets' Corner where Dickens was buried in 1870. With well-wishers from the world of literature, film, theatre and media, the event will celebrate Dickens's lasting impact on the arts and his popularity with audiences around the globe.
This event will also mark the largest gathering of descendants of the great novelist, with over 200 family members attending including the head of the family, Mark Dickens, who will also read from his great-great-grandfather's work. Tickets for journalists can be requested from the Charles Dickens Museum. The Museum and Dickens 2012 are pleased to offer 100 free tickets to the general public for this event, which is part of the Museum's £3.1m Great Expectations redevelopment project, largely supported by just over £2.35million from theHeritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This event is organised in association with Film London and The Dickens Fellowship.
Ralph Fiennes said: “I am delighted to take part in the celebrations for Dickens's 200th birthday anniversary.  It will be a great honour to read an excerpt from Dickens's work in Poets' Corner to commemorate one of the world's greatest writers, and a man whose imagination has a lasting impact on the creative industries, including film, theatre and media.”
Dr Florian Schweizer, Director of the Charles Dickens Museum and Dickens 2012, said: “On 7 February people around the globe will take part in the Dickens bicentennial celebrations, from Hong Kong to California. The wreathlaying ceremony at Westminster Abbey will bring together visitors from more than 60 countries, many representing the wide range of Dickens's own professions and interest groups including authors, actors, social campaigners, journalists, charity workers, fundraisers and the public sector. Poets' Corner, with its rich and unique heritage and literary associations, is the perfect site to honour one of the greatest creative minds this country has ever seen.”
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: “Dickens's humanity and compassion made an extraordinary impact on Victorian England through his writings, which remain immensely popular. This bicentenary should help renew our commitment to improving the lot of the disadvantaged of our own day.”
Mark Dickens, Head of the Dickens Family and President of the Dickens Fellowship, said: “The service in Westminster Abbey is one of the central events of the bicentenary year and it will be a special occasion for more than 600 members of the congregation. Together with Dickensians from around the world, there will be nearly 200 members of Charles Dickens's family present, the largest ever gathering.  These are descended from his sons, Charley and Henry and include the last surviving Great Grandchild and the first Great Great Great Great Great Grandchild.”
Sue Bowers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London said: “This is a very special year for Dickens’s legacy and we are delighted to have supported the Charles Dickens Museum project Great Expectations so that his Grade I listed former London home can be redeveloped for the bicentenary of his birth.”
Applications for tickets are available from Westminster Abbey from Matthew Arnoldi
Bicentenary fundraising dinner at Mansion House, 6.45pm. By kind permission of the Hon. Lord Mayor of the City of London, the official Dickens 2012 dinner will be held with Dickensian entertainment including readings by Sir Patrick Stewart (A Christmas Carol) and musical performances by West End Kids. In the heart of the City which Dickens immortalised in his works, visitors from around the world will celebrate 'The Inimitable' Dickens whose passion for convivial dining and drinking was legendary among his contemporaries and is well-observed in many of his stories. Proceeds of this event will be donated to the Great Expectations redevelopment fund of the Charles Dickens Museum (registered charity 212172). The event is supported by Royal Mint, who will present coins of the new £2 Dickens coin to all ticket holders, and by Bodegas Williams & Humbert, Jerez, Spain. Tickets at £120 include a three-course meal, sherry reception, entertainment, gift pack. Speakers: Lord Mayor David Wootton, Sir Patrick Stewart, Matthew Dent (designer of the £2 coin issued by The Royal Mint to commemorate Dickens’s bicentenary).
Lord Mayor David WoottonChair of the Board of Trustees of the Charles Dickens Museum, said: “Dickens made many references to the Lord Mayor and Mansion House, particularly in relation to eating and drinking.  Mansion House is therefore exactly the right location to celebrate the evening of the bicentenary and I am delighted to be hosting this magnificent event for the Dickens community.”
To purchase tickets contact: Events Department, Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2LX,

About the Charles Dickens Museum
The Charles Dickens Museum in London is the world's most important collection of material relating to the great Victorian novelist and social commentator. The only surviving London home of Dickens (from 1837 until 1839) was opened as a Museum in 1925 and is still welcoming visitors from all over the world in an authentic and inspiring surrounding. On four floors, visitors can see paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture and many items relating to the life of one of the most popular and beloved personalities of the Victorian age.
The Charles Dickens Museum is a coordinating partner of Dickens 2012, the international campaign to mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth.
Great Expectations is the Charles Dickens Museum's £3.1m redevelopment project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to improve Dickens's only remaining London residence where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas NicklebyGreat Expectations will establish the Charles Dickens Museum as Britain’s most accessible and inspirational literary house museum. The project will increase space for the interpretation and housing of the collections by 100%, introducing state-of-the-art facilities to preserve the collections for the enjoyment of future generations. In the adjacent property, which is owned by the Museum, a new visitor centre with study facilities and teaching rooms for the National Dickens Library and Archive will be created. The project also promotes Dickens’s cultural and social legacy through a comprehensive activity programme to mark the bicentenary of the author’s birth in 2012.
About Dickens 2012
Dickens 2012, co-ordinated by the Charles Dickens Museum and Film London in association with the Dickens Fellowship, is an international celebration of the cultural and educational significance of the life and work of Charles Dickens to mark the bicentenary of his birth. Dickens-related activity will take place all over the world under the Dickens 2012 banner to celebrate one of the world’s most inspiring authors and provide a legacy for future generations. 
Dickens 2012 partners include the BBC (Dickens on the BBC: November 11-February 12), British Council (International Dickens 2012 Programme: Nov 11-June 12), BFI (Dickens on Screen: Dec 11- March 12), Museum of London (Dickens and London: Dec 11-June 12), Museum Strauhof, Zurich (Charles Dickens: Dec 11-Mar 12), Penguin (‘Charles Dickens, A Life’ by Claire Tomalin and Special 2012 editions) and the Royal Mint (Dickens £2 coin).
Dickens 2012 has an expanding list of supporters, which includes names such as Simon Callow CBE, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Miriam Margolyes OBE and Peter Ackroyd CBE, and is backed by the Mayor of London as a cultural highlight in 2012.
About Film London
Film London, as the capital’s film and media agency, aims to ensure London has a thriving film sector that enriches the city’s businesses and its people. The agency works with all the screen industries to sustain, promote and develop London as a major international production and film cultural capital, and it supports the development of the city’s new and emerging film-making talent. Film London is funded by the Mayor of London, the National Lottery through the BFI, and receives significant support from Arts Council England and Skillset.
Film London is a coordinating partner of Dickens 2012, the international campaign to mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth.
About Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported 30,000 projects, allocating £4.7billion across the UK, including just over £893million in London alone.
About West End Kids
West End Kids is the UK's highest profile musical theatre song and dance troupe.  The company comprises 15 talented young singers and dancers.  The company is a ‘performance company’ and always performs to professional standards. In 2011 West End Kids performed for tens of thousands of people at high profile events and venues including the London 2012 One Year to Go Ceremony in Trafalgar Square. 

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