Dickens talk enjoyed by Probus members

Chairman Christopher Dodd, speaker David Neal, and member Neal Hawkins.
Chairman Christopher Dodd, speaker David Neal, and member Neal Hawkins.

After opening the meeting, the Pocklington Probus Club hairman Christopher Dodd requested Richard Hawkins to introduce his friend David Neal.

In his introduction Richard said that David, an ex-member of the York Branch of the Dickens Fellowship (now unfortunately defunct) was a much-respected authority on Charles Dickens.

He had been born in Rochester, which was Dickens’ favourite place. As could be seen from the costume he was wearing to address the club, was familiar with Charles Dickens and his period.

David displayed to the meeting his enthusiasm for Charles Dickens with an extensive knowledge of the author’s life, literary works and his tumultuous private life.

Dickens had affairs as well as fathering t10 children with his long-suffering wife, who eventually petitioned for divorce.

The talk was illustrated by pictures of some covers of the installments that Dickens produced for many of his novels.

Indeed, David displayed a modern reproduction of one such cover to his audience. Other illustrations were given of life in Victorian times as Dickens saw it.

Dickens was a phenomenal walker, thinking nothing of walking many miles a day, all the time recording in his mind what he saw and heard, to be reproduced later in his many works.

His life could be broadly divided into thee periods, his youth when he was building his experiences, his middle period when he was most prolific with his writing and towards the end where he was spending so much time touring and dramatizing his works as one-man shows

Not only did he write novels, he wrote guides on such things as choosing wallpaper and other domestic items.

David held his audience in thrall with descriptions of the domestic life of the novelist and his fury at the inconsistencies of laws particularly the absence copyright laws in the USA, where plagiarism of his works was rife. The meeting concluded with an enthusiastic vote of thanks proposed by Malcolm Smalley.