Charles Dickens was a conjuror: he produced unforgettable characters and scenes out of thin air and made them an indelible part of national – and world – culture; but he was also a keen amateur magician who amazed his literary friends with his acts of legerdemain.
Dickens has now become inseparably associated with the Christmas season – largely as a result of that 1843 ghost-story-with-a-moral, A Christmas Carol, and the other Christmas Books that followed.
The story of the tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley's Ghost, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come has been told and re-told to a point when it has ceased to be a literary phenomenon and has assumed a mythic status.
With the success of what Dickens called his little "Ghost Story of Christmas", the Victorian theatre – where ghosts were being regularly being conjured as an ingredient of plays and programmes of entertainment – began calling up Scrooge's spectral visitors with the aid of the cutting-edge special effects technology of their age.
This December the British Library celebrates the author's particular fascination with ghostliness and spookery in an exhibition, A Hankering after Ghosts: Charles Dickens and the Supernatural.
To coincide with the event, David and I are presenting a couple of performances of A Christmas Carol and the Conjuror: a divertissement combining a reading by me of Dickens' famous text – as abridged and performed by the author in his Public Readings of 1858 – interspersed with magical interludes from David featuring a cavalcade of mystifying tricks inspired by Scrooge's saga.
Performances are on Friday 9 December 2011 at 6:30 and Saturday 10 December at 2:30.
Don't be a HUMBUG: BOOK NOW!
Portrait of Dickens by Scala