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rochdickensOn Friday 7th February – Charles Dickens’ 202nd birthday – members of the Rochester & Chatham Dickens Fellowship attended the first local evening screening of the film “The Invisible Woman”. The film is currently being shown at the Odeon Cinema in Dickens World Leisure Complex, Chatham. The film is based on the book by Claire Tomalin telling the life story of Ellen (Nelly) Turnan. The controversy from a Dickensian scholar’s point of view is a tantalising question: did Charles Dickens have a platonic relationship with the young actress or a love affair? There is also controversy over his separation from his wife, the mother of his ten children – and indeed whether Ellen Turnan had a child by Charles Dickens (or even more than one!). I am sure that Dickens scholars will continue arguing over this for years to come.

Whatever the truth about Ellen Turnan and Charles Dickens, members enjoyed the film and found it well acted and produced. There is local interest in the film: Chatham and Rochester get a mention and part of the story relates to Gad’s Hill Place in Higham. A lesser-known fact is that Ellen (Nelly) Turnan was born on March 3rd 1839 in Maidstone Road, Rochester and baptised later that month in St Nicholas’ Church.

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Fagin

Fagin

The next meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) is on Thursday the 17th of October 7.00 for a 7.15 start. An extraordinary AGM followed by a talk by Dean Caston titled “The Victoria Palace Theatre” The meeting is in the Education Room of Dickens World in Chatham. Non Members are welcome for a small fee. For details of the R&CDF or for non-members to attend contact the Hon. Secretary Mr Steve Martin on 01474 834164. For Dickens World – http://www.dickensworld.co.uk

Dean Caston – The Victoria Palace Theatre

The current Victoria Palace theater opened in 1911 so most of the talk covers the period 1911 to date. However, Dean will also talk about the history of the theater from 1832 – 1866 when it was a Music Hall.

Dean Caston has been involved with the theater for over 35 years and serves on the committee for the Rainham Theatrical Society and the British Musical Society. He is currently appearing at the Criterion Music Hall in Sheerness and will be appearing soon in ‘Dick Whittington’ at the Hazlitt Theater, Maidstone. Dean is also a tour guide at Dickens World.

The next meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) is on Thursday the 18th of April, 7.15 for a 7.30 start. The meeting takes place in the Education Room at Dickens World in Chatham and includes a talk by Dr Ann Kneif – ‘Lola Montez, a 19th century adventuress’. Non-Members are welcome at £2 per person payable on the door but advanced booking is essential. For details of the R&CDF or for non-members to attend contact the Hon. Secretary Mr Steve Martin on 01474 834164 – stevemartin54@hotmail.com or John Knott 01634 862688.
For details of the venue – http://www.dickensworld.co.uk

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DSC07604The monthly meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) took place on Thursday the 21st of February staring at 7.30. The Charles Dickens 201st Birthday meeting was in the Pre-Show Room of The Britannia Theatre Dickens World in Chatham and included a performance of Dr Marigold by Gerald Dickens. For details of the R&CDF contact the Hon. Secretary Steve Martin on 01474 834164 – stevemartin54@hotmail.com or Chairman John Knott 01634 862688.

Gerald Dickens, the great great grandson of Charles Dickens, introduced his reading by telling the group some of the background to Dr Marigold and how much his great ancestor had liked performing it – particularly to American audiences. After the reading, Gerald answered questions from the audience and spent the next hour or so talking to members individually. In answer to one question, Gerald said that as far as he is aware, Dr Marigold is the only reading that Charles Dickens gave that did not come from one of his books. R&CDF are very lucky to have Gerald as our branch President.

Another highlight of the evening was a champagne toast to Charles Dickens birthday given by ex BBC News Reader and popular TV personality Jan Leeming. An excellent cake was baked and cut by Fellowship Committee Member Freda Mann. There was also a supply of champagne [ with orange juice for the nominated drivers amongst the group] provided by committee member David Hawes and the management of Dickens World in Chatham where the Fellowship hold their regular meetings. Many branch Members attended in Dickensian costume and the Chairman of the International Dickens Fellowship James Murray also attended and supported the celebrations.

Talk or “duopolylogue” by Professor Tony Pointon & Susan Healey titled “Dickens and Mothers in Law ” More

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