Aberdeen Branch of the Dickens Fellowship

Programme 2019-2020


All meetings are held in the meeting room of the Belmont Cinema on  Wednesdays 7-9 pm


Annual subscription £25


Book of the year: Dombey and Son


16 October 2019  Paul Schlicke: introduction to Dombey and Son

13 November 2019  Ian Campbell on Carlyle: "Dickens and the Engine"

11 December 2019  Tony Heywood on the coming of railways

15 January 2020  Christine Thomas on Women’s issues in Dombey

12 February 2020   Dickens birthday celebration

18 March 2020   John Bowen on “Zombie and Son”

15 April 2020   Eric  Summers on Robinson Crusoe

13 May 2020    Finlay  Crossan TBA


publications by members of the Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship

Aberdeen branch of Dickens Fellowship Programme 2018-2019

All meetings are held on Wednesday evenings, 7-9 pm. All meetings are held in the committee room at the Belmont Cinema; 

Book of the year: Barnaby Rudge

Fellowship programme 2018-19 

Paul Schlicke   September 26   introduction to Barnaby Rudge

Eric Summers   October 17 bicentenary of The Heart of Mid Lothian

Adam Cuthbert  November 21 Dickens the flâneur

 members December 12 Christmas readings

Ian Campbell January 16 Thomas Carlyle

Christine Thomas February 20 Angela Burdett Coutts

Grahame Smith  March 20  Barnaby Rudge

`Sally Lawton April 10 The Nurse who Found Herself in 1916

Dan Cook May 14 Swift and Dickens           


Dickens branch Programme 2017 – 2018

Little Dorrit, book of the year


All meetings are held on Wednesday evenings, 7-9 pm. All but the October meeting are held in the committee room at the Belmont Cinema; The October event, for which seating is limited and booking is required,  will be held in the Craig Suite of the University of Aberdeen Library


Annual membership is £25; attendance at a single meeting is £3; the October event is free of charge.


September 20: Paul Schlicke: Introduction to Little Dorrit

October 11: Professor Jerry White on Dickens and the Marshalsea {co-sponsored by Friends of AU Library); meeting held in Craig Suite, University library; admittance free.

November 15: Alison Summers on Charlotte Brönte

December 13: Christmas readings

January 17:  Professor Jeannette King, "Fanny Dorrit reconsidered. Nature and Nurture in Little Dorrit'"

February 14: Christine Thomas on Harriet Martineau

March 21: Professor John Bowen (University of York, president of Fellowship), " Dickens's Magic"

April 25: Professor Grahame Smith “Merdle and money”

May 16: Paul Schlicke, "Dickens in the Circus"



Aberdeen Branch of the Dickens Fellowship

Programme 2016—2017

In the coming season we will be moving from our meeting place in Grampian Housing boardroom,  to the meeting room of the Belmont cinema.

Meetings will be held on Wednesday evenings, 7 – 9 pm in meeting room, Belmont Cinema


21 September 2016         7-9 pm                  Eleanor Gordon; Victorian families

19 October 2016               7-9 pm                  Paul Schlicke: introduction to Edwin Drood

23 November 2016          7-9 pm                  Marion Anderson on Catherine Dickens; title tba

21 December 2016           7-9 pm                  Christmas readings

18 January 2017                7-9 pm                  Eric Summers: Dickens, Disraeli and the Leap in the Dark

15 February 2017              7-9 pm                  Tony Williams: “Falling to with an appetite: Dickens and The

                    Mystery of Edwin Drood

15 March 2017                     7-9 pm                  Ian Campbell: Dickens and illiteracy

19 April 2017                      7-9 pm                   Pete Orford: on Edwin Drood; 'Solving Drood: The Golden 
                                                                                       Age of Droodism 1884-1939".

17 May 2017                      7-9 pm                   Grahame Smith: Edwin Drood: the colonial dimension

14 June 2017                      7-9 pm                  Derek Stewart; The Theatricality of Edwin Drood: Dickens, Theatre and Adaption. 

Aberdeen branch programme 2015-16



Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month, in Grampian Housing, corner Huntly and Summer Streets, Aberdeen.

Book of the year: David Copperfield

 September 22: September: Valerie Lillington – “Connections: CD and Sullivan, New South Wales, cricket in Australia, a little Ada and the hereafter”

October 22: Paul Schlicke – “Boz on the bus”

November 11: Grahame Smith – Dickens and film

December 16: Paul Schlicke reading of A Christmas Carol

January 20 Hazel Hutchison– “Dora Copperfield’s Book of Household Management”

February 17: Jeannette King – “Copperfield and Jane Eyre as Bildungsroman

March 16: Eleanor Gordon– Victorian families

April 20: Eric – “Dickens and the Franklin mystery”

May 18: Dan Wall – “David Copperfield as autobiography”

June 15 : Derek Stewart – “‘Barkis is willin’: Wills and the Lack of Wills in David Copperfield



Programme for 2014-15

All meetings are scheduled for 7 - 9 pm in Grampian Housing board room, corner Huntley and Summer streets,  except the first event of the year, which will be held in the University library.

            Tuesday 16 September: Guest lecture: Valerie Purton on Dickens and the sentimental Tradition

                                    (LG29, Duncan Rice Library)


Tuesday 14 October: guest lecture: Jenny Hartley on Urania Cottage                     


Tuesday 11 November: seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Grahame Smith:

                        'Youth and Age in OCS: Nell as an Abused Child'  (Grampian Housmg)


Tuesday 16 December: reading of A Christmas Carol  NB change of venue:

    Reading will take place at Holburn West Church, Great Western Road, from 6.30 to 10pm.


Tuesday 20 January: seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Paul Schlicke: ‘Embracing the new spirit of the age: the topicality of OCS’


Tuesday 17 February seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Jeannette King: ‘Nell from a feminist perspective’


Tuesday 17 March: seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Dan Wall: ‘The troubled gestation and publication of OCS’


Tuesday 14 April: lecture by Eric Summers, ‘Contemporary Connections’


Tuesday 12 May readings of favourite passages from Dickens by members


Tuesday 16 June: Dickensian banquet


Prestigious International Conference coming to Aberdeen


Aberdeen has been selected to host the 2016 conference of the international Dickens Fellowship.  Held last year in France and scheduled for Chicago in July of this year, this annual five day celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens will be held in Aberdeen in July 2016.


Dr Paul Schlicke, a leading Dickens scholar and retired senior lecturer in English at Aberdeen University, formally presented the bid from the Granite City at a meeting of the Council of the Fellowship in London.


Charles Dickens (1812-70) came to Aberdeen on two occasions, in 1858 and 1866, when he gave public readings in what were then the County Rooms (now the Music Hall), and in 1849 he declined an invitation to stand as rector of Marischal College.

The 2016 conference will thus celebrate 150 years from Dickens's last visit to the city.  


The Dickens Fellowship, founded in 1902, is the biggest fan club of a dead author in the world and has branches all over the world.  Aberdeen’s group, started up in 2012, the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth, and affiliated with the international organisation this past autumn. It is not only one of the newest branches but also the only one in all of Scotland. In the early days of the Fellowship’s existence Edinburgh hosted a branch, but it folded some fifty years ago. The international Conference has been held in Scotland only twice before, in 1929 and 1994, both times in Edinburgh. The decision to come to Aberdeen is therefore a tribute to the dynamism of the Aberdeen Dickensians and recognition of the city’s commercial and cultural importance.  


A civic reception will greet delegates, and the conference will be a showcase for all the attractions of Aberdeen and the North-east of Scotland generally.  It will be an opportunity to show off the city’s museums and art gallery and to provide excursions to regional castles and distilleries, to the Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre at Arbuthnott, and to Hospitalfield House, the arts centre in Arbroath, at which a cache of Dickens’s letters has recently been discovered..


The University of Aberdeen will have a central role to play, providing accommodation, dining, and lecture and seminar facilities.  An exhibition is planned in the magnificent new Sir Duncan Rice library, which holds one of the richest collections of Dickens materials in the world .


Rrenowned Dickens actors Simon Callow and Miriam Margolyes hope to perform at Aberdeen’s conference. The broadcaster, Aberdeen’s own James Naughtie, has agreed to speak at the conference banquet.



Programme for 2014-15


Tuesday 16 September: Guest lecture: Valerie Purton on Dickens and the sentimental Tradition


Tuesday 14 October: guest lecture: Jenny Hartley on Urania Cottage


Tuesday 11 November: seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Grahame Smith:

'Youth and Age in OCS: Nell as an Abused Child'  


Tuesday 16 December: reading of A Christmas Carol


Tuesday 20 January: seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Paul Schlicke: ‘Embracing the new spirit of the age: the topicality of OCS’


Tuesday 17 February seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Jeannette King: ‘Nell from a feminist perspective’


Tuesday 17 March: seminar on The Old Curiosity Shop, led by Dan Wall: ‘The troubled gestation and publication of OCS’


Tuesday 14 April: lecture by Eric Summers, ‘Contemporary Connections’


Tuesday 12 May readings of favourite passages from Dickens by members


Tuesday 16 June: Dickensian banquet



Dickens’ journalism – a highly personal select list


I’m sending this list out now, to give members a chance to get started with your reading for our meeting on 8th April, when we are scheduled to discuss Dickens’s journalism. Start with Dullborough Town and Gone Astray, which are my own very favourites. I’ve highlighted what I hope is a manageable number for our discussion but have included more in a long list for anyone who is keen to read more. All titles are available on John Drew’s website, Dickens Journals Online: https://archive.org/details/djo Most are also available in Michael Slater’s 4-volume edition of the Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens’ Journalism; some were collected by Dickens himself under the title Reprinted Pieces; others were collected in The Uncommercial Traveller..


30.3 50 HW A Preliminary Word

30.3.50 HW The Amusements of the People (1)

6 .4.50 HW, RP A Child’s Dream of a Star

13.4.50 HW The Amusements of the People (2)

20.4.50 HW Some Account of the Extraordinary Traveller

27.44.50 HW Pet Prisoners

27.5.50 HW, RP A Walk in the Workhouse

15.6.50 HW Old Lamps for New Ones

22.6.50 HW The Sunday Screw

17.7.50 HW, RP A Detective Police Party (1)

10.8.50 HW, RP  A Detective Police Party (2)

14.12.50 HW A December Vision

21.12.50 HW A Christmas Tree

4.1.51 HW The Last Words of the Old Year

8.3.51 HW, RP On Duty With Inspector Field

2.8.51 HW, RP Our Watering Place

23.8.51 HW Whole Hogs

30.8.51 HW A Flight

11.10.51 HW, RP Our School

13.3.52 HW A Sleep to Startle Us

30.10.52 HW, RP Lying Awake

1.1.53 HW Where We Stopped Growing

5.2.53 HW Down with the Tide

5.2.53 HW, RP Down With the Tide

11.6.53 HW, RP The Noble Savage

13.8.53 HW Gone Astray

1.10.53 HW Frauds on the Fairies

11.2.54 HW On Strike

4.11.54 HW, RP Our French Watering Place

26.5.55 HW The Toady Tree

9.6.55 HW Cheap Patriotism

28.6.56 HW, RP  Out of the Season

1.8.57 HW Curious Misprint in the Edinburgh Review

12.6.58 HW Personal

18.2.60 UT Wapping Workhouse

25.2.60 AYR, UT Two Views of a Cheap Theatre

10.3.60 AYR, UT Poor Mercantile Jack

24.3.60 AYR, UT Refreshments for Travellers

7.4.60 AYR, UT Travelling Abroad

26.5.60 AYR, UT Shy Neighbourhoods

30.6.60 AYR, UT Dullborough Town

21.7.60 AYR, UT Night Walks

8.9.60 AYR, UT Nurse’s Stories


Key:    AYR All the Year Round

            HW Household Words

            RP Reprinted Pieces

            UT The Uncommercial Traveller

Dear Fellow Dickensians,


Following a splendid evening when Professor Michael Slater presented a delightful and stimulating lecture of Dickens and London, I write to remind everyone of the next meeting of the season, on Tuesday 4 March, 7pm, when Professor Malcolm Andrews will be lecturing on '"The Speech of the Sea is Various": Dickens, Turner and the Sea'.


Please note that the lecture will be delivered in the 2nd floor lecture room of the new Aberdeen University Library. Admittance is £3 or by membership of the Dickens Fellowship


Malcolm Andrews, emeritus professor of Victorian and visual studies at the University of Kent, has for many years been  editor of the Dickensian. He is author of Dickens and the Grown-up Child, Charles Dickens and His Perming Selves, and most recently Dickensian Laughter. He has also published widely on fine arts, most notably The Search for the Picturesque: Landscape Aesthetics and Tourism in Britain, 1760-1800.

Dear Fellow Dickensians,


I am delighted to report that Professor Michael Slater, the pre-eminent Dickens scholar alive today, will be coming to Aberdeen next month and has offered to speak to us. Happily, the dates of his visit coincide with our schedule of holding a meeting on Tuesday 4 February. We shall therefore postpone the previously announced evening of readings that night by members of Dickens passages and instead we will welcome Professor Slater. The title of his talk is ‘“That Great Magic Lantern”: Dickens and London.’ The date is Tuesday 4 February 2014. The venue is as usual Grampian Housing, corner of Huntly and Summer Streets, 7 to 9pm.


Admittance to the lecture will be by membership of the branch, or £3 for non-members.


Anyone wishing to join Professor Slater for dinner after the lecture, please let me know by 31 January at the latest, so that I can book a table, hopefully at Rustico.


Yours in Fellowship,


The reading of A Christmas Carol on 17th December will commence at 6.30 pm (earlier than originally scheduled) at Grampian Housing, corner Huntly and Summer Streets. Sweet and savoury snacks and mulled wine will be served. The reading itself will take approximately three hours.

 3 December 2013

At tonight's meeting the certificate of affiliation of our branch to the parent organisation will be unveiled.

Neil Clapperton has alerted us to recently discovered correspondence from Dickens to a man in Arbroath.


Michael Slater writes, supplying the context:


Briefly, the newly-discovered letters relate to Patrick Allan-Fraser's offer to the Guild [of Literature and Art, of which Dickens was the primary promoter] of a country house near Coventry inherited by his wife (the couple were very rich, childless and passionate about the arts) to the Guild in 1858.  Dickens expresses great gratitude and refers the matter to the Guild's solicitor Ouvry and the matter is not finally settled until 1862 when it is established that the Guild cannot, under the terms of its charter, accept this donation on account of the conditions attached to it by the donor (that it should never be sold, I think).  There are 3 or 4 letters from Dickens to PAF, one of which is in Pilgrim [i.e., The Pilgrim edition of Letters of Charles Dickens] (having become mysteriously separated from the archive and passed into private hands).  There also a letter to PAF from Augustus Egg [the artist, a close friend of Dickens's] apparently a friend of his, about Dickens  hoping to visit Arbroath during his reading tour in Scotland but in the event that turned out not to be feasible.


. . .and Bill Long directs us to a blog regarding the letters themselves: http://www.patisback.co.uk/styled-5/index.html


There is an entry in Wikipedia on Hospitalfield, the country house (and now Museum) in Arbroath from which the  correspondence was initiated.


It appears to me that a visit by our group to Hospitalfield should be a priority!


All best wishes, Paul

11 October 2013. ANNOUNCEMENT. At the meeting of the Dickens Fellowship Council in London on 5th October, the bid from the Aberdeen branch to affiliate with the parent organisation was formally (and unanimously) approved. This means that we shall commence charging the membership fee and issuing membership cards, at our forthcoming meeting at 7pm, Tuesday 15th October, to be held as usual at Grampian Housing, corner of Summer and Huntley streets. The meeting will consist of a seminar (the second of four) on Bleak House, introduced by Paul Schlicke.
27 September 2013. For a lively and informative account of the meeting held on 17 September, when Professor Grahame Smith led discussion of Bleak House,  follow the link  http://aberdeenvoice.com/2013/09/tour-bleak-house/   
September 2013. Important announcement. The Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship has applied to affiliate with the international organisation. Accordingly, we have chosen officers and set an annual membership fee of £20, in order to afford to bring in speakers. Admittance to any meeting for non-members will be £3. Details will follow shortly.

Programme 2013-2014


Tuesday 17 September 2013: lecture by Grahame Smith, introduction to Bleak House, followed by seminar on numbers 1-5, chapters. 1–16.

Tuesday 15 October 2013: lecture by Paul Schlicke, the topicality of Bleak House, followed by seminar on numbers 6-10, chapters 17–32.

Tuesday 12 November 2013: lecture by Dan Wall, the serialisation of Bleak House, followed by seminar on numbers 11-15, chapters 33–49.

Tuesday 3 December 2013: lecture by Paul Schlicke, plots and detecting in Bleak House, followed by seminar on numbers 16–20, chapters 50–67.

Tuesday 17 December 2013: Paul Schlicke will read A Christmas Carol

Tuesday 4 February 2014: readings from Dickens by members of the group

Tuesday 4 March 2014: Malcolm Andrews lecture: '"The Speech of the Sea is Various": Dickens, Turner and the Sea'.

Tuesday 8 April 2014: seminar on selected journalism (note texts available on-line on John Drew’s website: http://www.djo.org.uk/)

Tuesday 13 May: 2014: banquet


All meetings except the lecture on 4 March and the banquet on 13 May will take place from 7 to 9 pm at Grampian Housing, corner of Huntley and Summer Streets. Venue for Professor Andrews's lecture: University library, floor 2 lecture room. Venue for banquet TBA.


Grahame Smith, Emeritus Professor from Stirling, is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen and was for several years external examiner at his alma mater. He is past president of the international Dickens Fellowship and has written widely on Dickens, most notably Dickens, Money and Society (1968), Charles Dickens: Bleak House (1974), Dickens: A Literary Life (1996), and Dickens and the Dream of Cinema (2003).
Paul Schlicke, Honorary Senior Lecturer from the University of Aberdeen, is also a past president of the International Dickens Fellowship and of the Dickens Society of America. He is author of Dickens and Popular Entertainment (1985) and Coffee with Dickens (2008) and editor of the Oxford Companion to Charles Dickens (1999, 2011).
Dan Wall, part-time lecturer, University of Aberdeen, wrote his dissertation on Countering Cultural Maladies: the writings of John Gibson Lockhart, 18171853 (2008).
Malcolm  Andrews, Emeritus Professor of Victorian and Visual Studies at the University of Kent, for many years editor of the Dickensian, is author of Dickens and the Grown-Up Child, Charles Dickens and His Performing Selves and most recently, Dickensian Laughter.
Officers of the Aberdeen branch
Chairman: Paul Schlicke     Vice chair: Sally Lawton
Secretary: Eric Summers     Treasurer: Neil Clapperton
advisory committee: Marion Anderson, David Innes, Ann Penhale,
Alison Summers, Sandy Thom, Ann Templeton




The Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship

in collaboration with

The University of Aberdeen Centre for the Novel


The Friends of Aberdeen University Library

is pleased to announce


“Dickens, Journalism, and Fellowship:

An Exhibition, Lectures and an Online Tour”

* * * 

An Exhibition of 19th-century Journalism

Ground Floor Foyer, Sir Duncan Rice Library

9–11 July and 29 July– 24th August


curated by

Anthony Burton, formerly Chairman of the trustees of the Charles Dickens Museum
and librarian of the Forster Collection of Dickensiana at the Victoria and Albert Museum


* * * 

Lectures, Tuesday 9 July 2013

Room 224, Sir Duncan Rice Library

5.30 pm: arrival, wine reception, and exhibition, Ground Floor Foyer,

Sir Duncan Rice Library

6.00 pm: “An Introduction to Dickens’s Journalism”  


          John Drew, Professor of English, University of Buckingham, and Director of Dickens Journals Online

          Dr Tony Williams, formerly joint honorary secretary of the International Dickens Fellowship, Honorary Senior Research
Fellow in Humanities at the University of Buckingham and Associate Editor of The Dickensian,    

6.40 pm: John Drew, “An Online Tour of the Dickens Journals Online Project”

7.00 pm: Tony Williams, “A Brief History of the Dickens Fellowship”


7.20 pm: questions and return to ground floor for final viewing of exhibition


8.00 pm: Library closes

RSVP scc.events@abdn.ac.uk 

24 May 2013

Dear Fellow Dickensians,


First, a reminder that our third and final meeting to discuss Hard Times is scheduled for  this coming Wednesday 29 May, 7-9 pm, once more in the board room of the Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, at the corner of Huntly Street and Summer Street.


Second, I’m delighted to announce that negotiations are well advanced for July activities. Professor John Drew or Buckingham University, project director of Dickens Journals Online, and Dr Tony Williams, past secretary of the Dickens Fellowship, will be in Aberdeen on Tuesday 9th July. They will be bringing the fabulous exhibition of 19th-c journalism (devised by Anthony Burton, emeritus curator of the collection of Dickens manuscripts etc in the Victoria and Albert Museum) for display in Aberdeen, and giving talks that evening. Further details will follow shortly.


Yours in Fellowship,


25 April 2013


Dear Dickensians,


Following on from last night’s lively seminar discussion of Hard Times part 2, we have agreed to meet to discuss the rest of that novel on Wednesday 29 May, 7-9 pm, once more in the board room of the Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, at the corner of Huntly Street and Summer Street. There is free parking adjacent to the building. I hope to see you there.


Yours in Fellowship,


29 March 2013


Dear Fellow Dickensians.


Attendance for discussion of part 1 of Hard Times was sparse, but discussion was lively. At our next meeting we will discuss Part 2, "Reaping".


We will meet again 7-9 pm on Wednesday 24 April, again at Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, 300 yards up from the Catholic Cathedral, at the corner of Huntly Street and Summer Street. There is free parking adjacent.


Yours in Fellowship,

22 February 2013


Dear Fellow Dickensians,


I’m pleased to report that we had a most successful meeting last night, with lively discussion of Scenes from Sketches by Boz. We agreed to move on to discussion of a novel for our next meeting, and the choice was Hard Times. We will read the first section “Sowing” (chapters 1–16). Any edition will do; if you want to see my thoughts (from some years ago) on that novel, the World’s Classics edition contains an introduction and notes by me.


The meeting will be held once more in the Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, 300 yards up from the Catholic Cathedral, at the corner of Huntly Street and Summer Street, Thursday March 28, from 7 to 9 pm. There is free parking adjacent.  


Yours in Fellowship,


31 January 2013

Dear Fellow Dickensians,


As previously intimated, the next meeting of the Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship is to be held on Thursday 21 February, 7-9 pm, when we will discuss the sketches in the section “Scenes” from Sketches by Boz. Wishing to meet in a venue other than the University, we have secured a room in the offices of the Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, 300 yards up from the Catholic Cathedral, at the corner of Huntly Street and Summer Street. There is parking opposite Dana Petroleum offices, with access from Kydd Street. Tea and coffee will be available.


In light of the sparse attendance at our last meeting (the exhibition of Dickens treasures in the University Library), it is crucial that we have a decent turnout, if our organisation is to survive, so please make an effort to attend. It would help us to plan for numbers if you could let me know whether you will attend.


I would welcome suggestions from everyone regarding the sorts of events which you think might prove most popular in future. We attracted huge audiences for Miriam Margolyes and Jim Naughtie, but they were obviously special cases. We had respectable turnout (40-50 each time) for the academic lectures over the past twelve months, but we are not in a financial position to bring speakers in from outside (the University paid for those who came to lecture last year, as part of the bicentenary celebrations, but that is now past history). And I am uncertain whether there would be much interest in turning ourselves into a reading group. Please let me know if you have any thoughts as to what we might organise that would regularly attract twenty or more participants.


In closing, let me note that the Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, London, reopened before Christmas after its £3m facelift, and it is simply wonderful. After worrying times only a few years ago, the Museum’s financial position is now decidedly healthy, and a bright future is in prospect. There is a gala celebration planned there for Dickens’s birthday, 7 February, and doors will be open daily thereafter. Well worth a visit!


Yours in Fellowship, Paul


Paul Schlicke

7 December 2012

Dear Fellow Dickensians,


Sad to report that we mustered a total of only ten hardy souls to view the exhibition of Dickens treasures in Aberdeen University Library last night. No doubt the snow and ice and darkness kept some people away, but the numbers were nonetheless disappointing.  In consequence, we decided not to proceed with plans to consolidate and affiliate, but to hold a couple more meetings in the new year and, depending on turnout, to proceed to affiliation at a later date. I have written this morning to headquarters branch of the Fellowship to say that we are not ready to join the parent organisation yet.


Those of us present last night agreed to hold a meeting on Thursday 21 February, when we would discuss the sketches in the section “Scenes” from Sketches by Boz. Venue to be decided. All being well we would then proceed to a meeting sometime in the week of 25 March to discuss the following section of Sketches, entitled “Characters”. I hope that some at least of those who were unable to attend last night will be interested in participating in these events.


For the future, I am currently negotiating with academic colleagues to come to Aberdeen to speak to us; with Simon Callow, who has expressed keen interest to revisit Aberdeen; and with the organisers of a splendid exhibition on mid-19th-century journalism, devised by a former curator of the Forster Collection of Dickensiana in the Victoria  and Albert Museum.


I welcome any input, with ideas as to how we might best proceed, if we wish to make our group a viable organisation. All suggestions are welcome, although I shall not be able to respond immediately, as I fly out tomorrow to Calcutta, where I shall be giving three lectures on Dickens, in a final effort to celebrate the bicentenary throughout the world.


Very best wishes to all for Christmas and the new year.


Yours in Fellowship,


26 November 2012

Dear Fellow Dickensians,




This is a reminder of our final meeting of the Bicentenary, at 7pm on Thursday 6 December, in the Special Collections Department of the new University Library. I’ve just learned that there is to be another event held in the Library that same evening, also relating to Special Collections, so make sure that you get pointed in the right direction for Dickens: our exhibition is to be held in the reading room in the basement (directly at the foot of the stairs) and we will be meeting in the seminar room opposite.


Several people have asked whether the exhibition will be available for viewing after our event. The answer is, sadly, no: it is for one night only, with the displays on the desks in the reading room itself, needing to be cleared for business as usual next morning. I can offer, however, to recount for anyone who inquires, the anecdote about one item which will be on view, which advertises a theatre production in Aberdeen in the 1830s “positively for one night only”.


Remember that our meeting, to be held in conjunction with the exhibition, is to decide whether we should formally constitute ourselves as a society, with membership, officers, an advertised annual programme of events, and affiliation with the international Dickens Fellowship. I sincerely hope that the answer to each of those issues is an emphatic YES, and I hope that some of you will come prepared to put your names forward. I welcome any offers or views before the meeting itself, which can be sent to me by e-mail. See my earlier posting, copied below, for information about affiliation.


Finally, if we have time and inclination, we can read to one another from favourite passages from Dickens, so come prepared with any passage you would like to perform as a party piece.


Yours in Fellowship,



25 October 2012


Dear Fellow Dickensians,

I have been in touch with Joan Dicks, the retiring secretary of the Fellowship, for details about affiliation or branch status for our Aberdeen group. She has replied very fully and helpfully, in a message which I copy below. I would ask all of you to consider the advantages of linking ourselves with the parent organisation. If even a few of us were interested in subscribing to the Dickensian, visiting the museum in London, voting on Fellowship business, etc., the cost is so low that we could easily absorb it, once we agreed to set a local membership fee.

You will see that a key point made by Joan is that our organisation ought not be solely dependent on a single individual, but should have at least three or four people willing to undertake the (minimal) work necessary to develop and run a programme. From feedback thus far, I feel confident that we can do that.

Please feel free to contact me with ideas and expressions of willingness to be part of a steering committee. And feel free to poke the “reply all” button if you would like to share your views with everyone on the mailing list.

With best wishes,


From: Joan Dicks [mailto:joan@dickshg.freeserve.co.uk]
Sent: 25 October 2012 13:15
To: Schlicke, Dr Paul V. W.
Cc: Lee Ault; Paul Graham
Subject: RE: affiliation

Dear Paul

Your group in Aberdeen could apply to AFFILIATE to the Dickens Fellowship which would only cost £15 a year. (Affiliation is the status that the Pickwick Clubs have.)

But I think you are probably enquiring about chartered BRANCH STATUS, which does indeed cost £30 a year.

For £30 you get:

·         A formal charter document.

      ·         The name of the Aberdeen Branch and contact details listed in The Dickensian journal (inside back cover)

      ·         The name of the Aberdeen Branch and contact details listed on the Dickens Fellowship website, under Branches, and a link to your own website from                     there.

      ·         All your Branch members would have free admission to the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

      ·         All your Branch members would be entitled to a reduced rate subscription to The Dickensian journal.

      ·         The Branch Secretary (is that you?) would automatically receive copies of the newsletters of the Central Fellowship: The London Particular and Mr                         Dick’s Kite. There are 6 of these a year, and we like to send them out electronically as post is so expensive! These could then be forwarded to your                         members.

      ·         Your Branch would be entitled to a seat and a vote at the Dickens Fellowship Council meetings, held in London twice a year, and would receive Minutes                 of those meetings and the Minutes of the Annual General meeting held at conference each year. (You could ask for a London-based member of the                     Fellowship to represent you at those Council meetings, if the journey is an insuperable obstacle!)

You also need to bear in mind that if your members choose NOT (in due course) to apply for Branch status, it would be difficult for the group to claim to be ‘the Aberdeen Dickens Fellowship’  – and obviously it would not be recognised as such in the history of the Fellowship or given any recognition in the Dickensian or on the DF website. It is quite a formal status.

I am surprised to hear that you have not yet discussed charging a membership fee – it’s usually one of the first things that a potential Branch sorts out! Even if the accommodation for meetings doesn’t involve a charge, there are usually costs involved for refreshments or publicity materials, which need to be covered….. by someone!

Do you mind my asking, do you have help organising the group? Before granting official status to any new Branch, DF Council likes to be reassured that there is a core of 3 or 4 people who share the responsibilities of managing the arrangements. Obviously roles and titles vary from branch to branch, but there is usually a Secretary and a Treasurer, and possibly a Programme Secretary or a President, or someone who does the website. The fear is that if the branch depends on the enthusiasm of  a single individual a) that person will have too much to do! and b) if that person is ill or moves away, the Branch is likely to collapse. The aim is to grant official status only to those branches which are likely to last for some time (this is a particular worry this year, with the bicentenary excitement stimulating a lot of people to form branches! – but clearly the hope is that the branches will last way beyond the bicentenary.)

Paul, this email is getting too long! Please get back to me if you have any further queries about this.

In the meantime, you will see (if you go to the DF website www.dickensfellowship.org) that there is a button on the front page ‘Branches Forming.’ Aberdeen is listed, and your details given. If you would like to send material we could put a link to the information – a description of where/when you meet, details of your programme, your aspirations etc (plus photographs?) would be really welcome. You might like to look at what Carrara have supplied. (It needs to be fairly permanent information as we haven’t got the resources to update the links on the site too often! Though we do our best……)

I will now have a look at your website!

With all good wishes.


24 October 2012


Dear Fellow Dickensians,


Following the stupendous success of our most recent events, when Miriam Margolyes and James Naughtie entertained and enlightened us, I am pleased to remind you of our next event. Professor Michael Slater, the world’s foremost living authority on Dickens will be in Aberdeen on Thursday 8 November. He will be speaking on his experience of writing what is by far the best modern biography of Dickens, under the title “An Attempt on the Life of Charles Dickens”.  The lecture will take place in room 228 of the new University Library at 7pm.


Professor Slater, emeritus professor from Birkbeck College, University of London, is author of Dickens and Women, The Genius of Dickens, Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing, and most recently, The Great Charles Dickens Scandal. He is a former editor of the Dickensian, past chairman of the board of trustees of the Charles Dickens Museum in London, past president of the international Dickens Fellowship, past president of the Dickens Society of America, and founder of the annual Dickens Day at Birkbeck College. He is an excellent speaker. We are privileged to have him visit us in Aberdeen.


For your diaries: out final meeting of the calendar year, at 7pm on Thursday 6 December, will be an exhibition of the Dickens treasures held in the University of Aberdeen library. The collection is one of the very best in the world, including first editions of all of Dickens’s novels, copies of his periodicals, and a wide range of supporting documents. Not to be missed! Bring along your favourite reading passage from Dickens, which we didn’t have time for at earlier meetings. And we can use the gathering as an opportunity to discuss the future of our branch: not only to consider possible topics for future meetings, but also to decide whether we wish to affiliate with the international Dickens Fellowship.


With all good wishes,


12 September 2012
Further to my last posting, I've heard from the University Events Office that it is advisable to book a place for James Naughtie's talk, to be sure of getting in if attendance is greater than anticipated. It's still free, but you should get an e-ticket by going to the following site: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/events/details-13081.php .

9 September 2012
Dear Fellow Dickensians,
Several of you have been asking about tickets for forthcomng events. Although we had to charge for Miriam's show, in order to pay her professional fees, other events are free and require no booking. Everyone is most welcome. Seating is unreserved but unless I've badly underestimated numbers there should be plenty of seats for the forthcoming lectures.
I'll hope to see many of you this Tuesday night, when each of you is invited to bring a party piece --  a favourite passage from anything by Dickens, which you would like to read aloud to the group. We will also discuss the "Our Parish" sketches from  Sketches by Boz. The event is to be held in the meeting room on the 7th floor of the new University library (spectacular views!). Just go to the information desk inside the main entrance, where you will be issued a pass to get in, and directed to the elevators to take you up. There is plenty of free parking (after 4.30 pm) nearby.
Yours in fellowship,

31 August 2012
Dear Fellow Dickensians,
It was good to see several of you at Miriam Margolyes's wonderful performance last night. What larks!
There has been another change to the programme for Professor Slater's visit later this autumn. He has had to change the date of his arrival and now will be lecturing on Thursday 8 November, at 7pm in room 228 of the new University Library. His title is " An Attempt at the life of Charles Dickens". Professor Slater is the pre-eminent Dickens scholar alive today, author of the magisterial biography of Dickens, published by Yale University Press in 2009 and of the forthcoming book The Great Charles Dickens Scandal, about the discovery of Dickens's relationship with Ellen Ternan and the results thereof for Dickens's reputation.
As previously announced, the BBC news presenterJames Naughtie, an Aberdeen graduate, will be speaking in the MacRobert Lecture Theatre at 6 pm on Thursday 11 October. He will be speaking on Dickens in relation to the present day, under the title "A Time for Dickens?"
I shall hope to see all of you before that, on Tuesday 11 September when we will meet to discuss the "Our Parish" sketches from Sketches by Boz and to read aloud favourite passages from Dickens. That event will take place in the seminar room on the 7th floor of the new University Library.
Yours in fellowship,


16 August 2012
Dear Fellow Dickensians,
Just returned myself from the annual conference of the Dickens Fellowship, held this year in Portsmouth, Dickens's birthplace, I write to say that I hope you all have your tickets to see Miriam Margolyes on August 30th. Details below; tickets may be had from the Aberdeen box office; the performance will take place at the Arts Lecture Theatre on the University campus. There is nearby free parking in the evening off King Street, and also in the lot off St Machar Drive.
Later events are (with one exception) as previously advertised: a meeting with readings and discussion in the University Library at 7pm Tuesday 11 September; a lecture by James Naughtie on Thursday 11 October; and a lecture by Professor Michael Slater on Thursday 25 October (N.B. NOT Friday the 26th, as originally indicated). Professor Slater, author of a splendid life of Dickens, will speak on the travails of a biographer, under the title "An Attempt on the Life of Charles Dickens".
Best wishes, Paul
27 July 2012
Dear Fellow Dickensians,
I am pleased to confirm that we have a booking for our next meeting of the Aberdeen branch, in the meeting room on the 7th floor of the new University Library, at 7pm on Tuesday 11 September. Each of you is invited to prepare a short reading from a favourite passage by Dickens, from anywhere in his works. We agreed that we would also discuss the "Our Parish" sketches from Sketches by Boz.
Between now and then, be sure to book your seats for the performance of Dickens's Women by Miriam Magolyes, Thursday, 30th August.
James Naughtie, the BBC news correspondent on the Today programme and an Aberdeen graduate, will be speaking at the University on Thursday evening, 11 October. Details to follow.
And I am pleased to announce that Professor Michael Slater, the foremost living authority on Dickens, will be in Aberdeen at the end of October and will be giving a lecture on Thursday 25 October. Details to follow.
Best wishes,

28 June 2012

Dear fellow Dickensians,

Should any be interested, the annual conference of the international Dickens Fellowship (to which we will affiliate once we are firmly established) is to be held this August in Portsmouth. Details can be found on the web at


You can find out about other bicentenary activities by clicking on www.Dickens2012.org

And you can take a virtual tour of the Dickens Museum (currently closed until December for major refurbishment) at http://www.dickensmuseum.com/

There are particularly good web sites with a wealth of varied information about everything Dickensian and Dickensian activities at http://charlesdickenspage.com/ and http://www.lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~matsuoka/Dickens.html

Best wishes, Paul

15 June 2012
I am pleased to announce that the inaugural meeting of the Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship will be held on Tuesday evening, 26 June, from 7.00 to 8.30 pm in Room 310 MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen.

The meeting will consist of an informal seminar discussion of Dickens’s life. No prior knowledge of the topic will be required and no preparation expected. I shall lead the discussion myself and will welcome questions and contributions from everyone present. There will be no charge for admission, and everyone interested is most welcome.

Venue: The MacRobert Building is the tall building on the corner of King Street and St Machar Drive. There is ample parking adjacent to the building, free after 4.30pm. The entrance is on the south side of the building (i.e., facing in the direction up King Street towards the city). On entering the building, turn left and then through the doors on your right, down the corridor, for lifts

Future events: On 30 August the actress Miriam Margolyes will be at the University presenting her one-woman show, “Dickens’s Women”. Tickets for that event are available from the Aberdeen box Office on Union Street. Then in September we’ll hold our next event, when we will discuss the group of sketches entitled “Our Parish” from Sketches by Boz, and members will be invited to read from favourite passages from Dickens, chosen by themselves. Thereafter we plan to schedule a series of seminars of topics under the general heading “Dickens and”—that is, Dickens and Money, Dickens and charity, Dickens and education, etc. We’ll have one meeting devoted to Dickens and Aberdeen (he came to give public readings on two occasions, turned down an invitation to stand for rector of Marischal College, and published an article in his journal Household Words about the local legend of the “Downie Slauchter”). We also plan to have a viewing of Aberdeen University’s magnificent Dickens collection. The essential point is that  we will be gathering in Fellowship; it is not intended to be an academic organisation, but rather a meeting of people who simply enjoy reading and talking about Dickens and his works. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For further information contact me at p.schlicke@abdn.ac.uk

Yours in Fellowship,


01 June 2012
Dear all,

 I am delighted to say that there has been a good take-up on the proposal to inaugurate a local branch of the Dickens Fellowship. Accordingly, I propose that we have a meeting to discuss dates, times, venue and (not least!) what kinds of activities might be attractive to us as a group. Let us meet at 7pm in the lounge of the Belmont Cinema on Tuesday 12 June (I’m told that it is quiet there in the early evening, but that they have activities most nights starting around 9pm – which will give us a clear end point. I would be grateful to receive acknowledgement from each of you who expects to be able to come, and apologies from any who remain interested but can’t make that date and time.

 Since it is early days, I think we hardly need consider drafting a constitution or affiliating with the international Dickens Fellowship at this stage, but we do need to decide when and where (and how often) we wish to meet, and to discuss ideas as to what we might do at our meetings. Can I stress once more that although I am myself a retired academic, I don’t envisage scholarship as our primary purpose; rather we should be gathering to share our enjoyment of the Inimitable.

 Best wishes. I look forward to seeing as many as possible of you on the 12th.

Dr Paul Schlicke

Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Aberdeen

Trustee, The Charles Dickens Museum

Honorary Professorial Research Fellow, University of Buckingham

phone 078 6494 5213

e-mail p.schlicke@abdn.ac.uk

home page: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~enl017/pscv.htm

Proposal to found an Aberdeen Branch


The Dickens Fellowship



Anyone who enjoys Dickens on the page or stage, telly or cinema (no longer, alas, in the circus!) is most welcome to come together to found a local society devoted to celebrating Dickens’s life and works. The purpose of such a group will be primarily social enjoyment rather than dry-as-dust scholarship; indeed, you don’t need ever to have read a word of Dickens to join in the fun. We propose to hold perhaps six evening meetings a year, for lectures, discussions, readings and any other activities, as the local membership decides.


The international Dickens Fellowship was founded in London in 1902 with its stated aim to ‘knit together, in a common bond of friendship, lovers of the great master of humour and pathos, Charles Dickens’, to spread the love of humanity, to campaign against those social evils that most concerned Dickens, and to assist in the preservation and purchase of buildings and objects associated with his name or mentioned in his works.


There are more than fifty autonomous branches of the Dickens Fellowship throughout the world, affiliated with  the headquarters in London – but none in Scotland. We seek to find whether there is sufficient interest in Northeast Scotland to make an Aberdeen branch of the Fellowship possible.


Specific arrangements will be decided at an inaugural organisational meeting one evening later this spring. Provisionally, membership will be free of charge, and an initial  programme of events will be drawn up at that meeting.


Are you interested in joining an Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship?  If so, please contact Paul Schlicke at p.schlicke@abdn.ac.uk or 078 6494 5213.


University of Aberdeen Dickens Bicentenary Events

Dickens Bicentenary: Spring Programme


01 May 2012, 19:00 - 29 May 2012, 19:00

The University of Aberdeen has launched a programme of events taking place in May as part of ‘Dickens 2012’ an international celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens to mark the bicentenary of his birth, which fell on 7 February 2012.

Spring Programme Events

Tuesday 1 May, 7pm: David Lean’s ‘Great Expectations’ (1946): film screening at the Belmont Cinema, Belmont Street Aberdeen
Thursday 3 May, 6pm: Adrian Poole (University of Cambridge): Dickens and the Scottish Play, Meeting Room 1, University Library, Bedford Road, Aberdeen
Thursday 10 May, 6pm: Paul Schlicke (University of Aberdeen) : Dickens and Popular Entertainment, Seminar Room, University Library, Bedford Road, Aberdeen
Thursday 17 May, 6pm: Robert Patten (Rice University, Houston): Who the Dickens is ‘Boz?‘, Meeting Room 1, University Library, Bedford Road
Thursday 24 May, 7.30pm: Talking Dickens: An evening of readings by the English Department, University of Aberdeen, Meeting Room 1, University Library
Tuesday 29 May, 7pm: David Lean’s ‘Oliver Twist’ (1948): film screening at the Belmont Cinema.

To reserve your place at one of the four evening lectures click here
Please contact the Belmont Cinema directly to book tickets for the film screenings

Miriam Margolyes in 'Dickens' Women'

Miriam Margolyes
30 August 2012 19:00

30 August 2012, 19:00

Venue: Arts Lecture Theatre, King's College Campus University of Aberdeen, AB24 3FX

As part of this year’s celebrations for the bi-centenary of Charles Dickens, The University of Aberdeen is delighted to present award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes with her acclaimed Olivier Award-nominated production, 'Dickens’ Women.'

The performance is part of a year-long world tour that includes seasons at the Sydney Opera House, and New York’s legendary Morgan Library among others.

In this revisited production especially created for the Dickens 2012 celebrations, audiences have the unique opportunity to witness the extraordinary passion and talent of Miriam Margolyes as she portrays over 23 of Dickens’ best-loved characters, from doe-eyed young heroines and brow-beating old harridans, to men and midgets. In a stunning demonstration of versatility and acting performance, Miriam Margolyes, together with her audience, sets out to discover the man himself, revealing everything from the raucous humour of his characterisations to the darker, more sinister, aspects of his life and work.

Funny, moving, affectionate and informative, Dickens’ Women is a show for young and old alike whether they are familiar with Charles Dickens’ writing or are just discovering him.

Tickets Priced at £15/£12 concessions. To book, visit the Box Office Aberdeen website www.boxofficeaberdeen.com