The Greater Boston Branch of the Dickens Fellowship
History:- Charles Dickens, the greatest English novelist of the 19th Century, died in 1870. Against his expressed wish, but in accord with popular will, he was buried in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey This was a measure of the regard for him on the part of his colleagues and the country at large.
In 1902, a gathering of experts and amateurs interested in Dickens formed the Dickens Fellowship, based in London but encompassing many other areas, initially, of Britain. This organization fostered scholarship in and enjoyment of Charles Dickens and his works. It began in 1905, and continues to this day, to publish ”The Dickensian,” a literary journal dedicated to knowledge about Charles Dickens and his times.
In America, interest in Charles Dickens was enormous from the time of his first novelistic publications in 1836–37 and his first visit to America in 1842. Branches of the Dickens Fellowship arose in America and today are more numerous here (22) than in Britain (15). Among these is the Greater Boston Branch, founded in the American city most closely identified with Dickens and the focal point of his American visits, especially the second visit in 1867–1868.
The Greater Boston Branch of the Dickens Fellowship was not the first Boston celebrant of Dickens’ memory. In 1884, only 14 years after Dickens’ death, many prominent women in Boston gathered to form the “All Around Dickens Club.” Though not long lasting, this Club was an early prototype of the Dickens Fellowship, formed in London 18 years later. Other clubs devoted to Charles Dickens grew up in Boston around the turn of the 19th century, such as the Dorchester Pickwick Club and others.
The Greater Boston Branch Today:- The Boston Branch of the Dickens Fellowship is a heterogeneous group of women and men who meet at regular intervals, 10 times per year to discuss the works of Charles Dickens, his life and circumstances, the Victorian Era and Dickens’ relationship with America and American Society. Our interests range from the scholarly to the sheer enjoyment of a rich cast of literary characters and the inventiveness of the man who created them.
We generally celebrate Dickens, the man, with a Christmas Party in December, an event marked by good fellowship, good food, the drinking of a wassail cup, the singing of carols, and brief talks by members. We also celebrate Dickens’ birthday in February with a dinner at a classic restaurant in the Greater Boston area.
The Fellowship meets monthly, from September to June, generally on the second Sunday of the month, from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Annually, one major work by Dickens is chosen by the collective membership for the reading text of the year and monthly readings scheduled. At the individual meetings, discussion, both formal and informal, is conducted by the membership. Good humor prevails, as is expected from an organization dedicated to the memory of Charles Dickens. Members may volunteer to present formal papers to their colleagues on subjects of their own choosing relevant to the book under discussion.
Membership Mechanics:- New members are welcome to the Greater Boston Branch of the Dickens Fellowship.. The dues are used to help support our activities, an annual donation to a charity of the members’ choice, and to help support the Headquarters activities of the Dickens Fellowship, currently housed at the Dickens House Museum on Doughty St. in London.
Annually we elect officers from among our membership. Our Secretary, to whom inquiries may be addressed, is
Ms. Cynthia Scott
She may also be contacted there for further information on membership and on the time and place of the next meetings. We encourage interested women and men to join us in an informal group of devotees of Dickens, the man, and Dickens, the literary giant. A visit to a meeting is encouraged even without a commitment to membership. Our meetings are currently held at the Union Oyster House. a restaurant visited by Charles Dickens near City Hall in Boston.