Charles Dickens and British Pathé

Dickensian ghosts haunt J.K.Rowling's London home

From National Mourning to 60s Tourism: Great Charles Dickens Footage in the British Pathé Archive

The Pathé brothers started filming forty years after Dickens’ death, yet the great author’s legacy is dotted throughout the British Pathé film archive. From Dickensian themed parties to arguments over the sale of Bleak House, here’s what archivists have found so far:

Next Wednesday (June 9th) will be the anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death in 1870, indeed his magnus opus Great Expectations is 150 years old this year. To some this might seem relatively recent considering just how archaic and dust-smothered some of his immortal characters like Miss Havisham and Ebenezer Scrooge look when they pop up on our screens at Christmas. But long before Dickens’ characters were televised, they were acted out as part of regular celebrations hosted by fans worldwide. Perhaps only J.K.Rowling has exceeded the level of sensation and stardom that Dickens secured in the hearts of working Britain, and in turn, America and the world.

Charles Dickens is one of the most celebrated British authors of all time and yet the fame his name bears today is miniscule compared to the popularity he enjoyed as an author during his lifetime.

Take a look at some of these brilliant clips in the British Pathe film archive related to the life and legacy of Charles Dickens:

(1918) The 106th Anniversary of Charles Dickens birth birth

(1920) Mr Edwin. Drew, the last survivor of the Dickens Society, places a large wreath on Charles Dickens’ tomb.

(1930) A dramatic open-air re-enactment of the Pickwick Papers by fans! Dickens Fellowship conference members re-enact a scene from the Pickwick Papers.

(1938 – sound footage) Actors dressed in Victorian costume pose in the historic places of Dickens novels. They represent the author and some of his characters including Pickwick, Mrs Bardell, Mrs Raddle, Mrs Cluppins, Sam Weller, Nancy, Oliver Twist, Bill Sykes, Fagin and Ruth Pinch.

(1949) Charles Dickens’ house comes under the hammer but is withdrawn at £14,000 by the then owner Mr Albert Batchelor and his niece, Miss Anne Carmody whom he promises to leave the property to if it fails to find a fitting owner.

More scenes from the 1949 auction of Bleak House

(1960s) A crazy Dickens themed restaurant in Paddington! A must-watch clip for any Dickens fan. We wonder if it’s still there today, we assume not.

Further shots of Dickens pilgrims between 1914-1918

And finally, this splendid little video of a Charles Dickens festival with couples dancing the afternoon away under the theme of their favourite author.

This blog post by British Pathé has been promoted on the Malton and Norton website, take a look here.

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