WGBH reports that Charles Dickens made his American stage debut with a reading of his beloved holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” in Boston 149 years ago this week. And that wonderful story about redemption through generosity of spirit makes many think of Dickens at this time of year.
Diane Archibald, co-author of Dickens and Massachusetts:The Lasting Legacy of the Commonwealth Visits, thinks of Dickens far more often than in December. An expert on his life and his work, her new book with Joel Brattin explores Dickens’s visits to America and the influence Massachusetts had on his life and work. Interviewed for this WGBH story, Archibald shared that Dickens found the the U.S. dirty and violent. But he liked Boston, especially he liked Lowell.
“Dickens is famous for having said about America that it was not the republic of his imagination,” Archibald said. “He had thought it was going to be some great land and he was disappointed. But in fact Massachusetts was the republic of his imagination. It was all and more than he had hoped for.”
You can read all about Dickens’s time in Massachusetts in Dickens and Massachusetts:The Lasting Legacy of the Commonwealth Visits, The collection begins with a broad biographical and historical overview taken from the full-length narrative of the award-winning exhibition Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation, which attracted thousands of visitors while on display in Lowell. Abundant images from the exhibition, many of them difficult to find elsewhere, enhance the story of Dickens’s relationship with the vibrant cultural and intellectual life of Massachusetts. The second section includes essays that consider the importance of Dickens’s many connections to the commonwealth.