I don't know about where you are, but here in Ohio, it's cold and snowy. Naturally, that makes me long for summer, and longing for summer, I can't help but think about the Bastille Day celebration we hosted here on South Bass Island last summer. No, Bastille Day isn't an official holiday here in the middle of Lake Erie, but we're always looking for ways to have fun and attract tourists.
Last summer, we did just that. And it was a sure-fire success. In honor of the event, my book discussion group, the League of Literary Ladies, read "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. Little did we know that the classic novel would lead us to island secrets, mixed up identities . . . and murder!
Solving this murder was a far, far better thing than the Literary Ladies have ever done before. And all we needed was a little help from our friend, Charles Dickens.
How much do you know about the great English writer? This Friday, February 7, is his 202nd birthday and in honor of it and the Dickens trivia contest we hosted on the island, here are some Dickens facts:
- Though we associate the phrase "What the Dickens" with the author, it actually pre-dates him by hundred of years. "Dickens" was a euphemism for the word "devil." The phrase is actually used in Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor."
- Dickens was fond of naming his children after literary greats. Among his ten children are Alfred Tennyson Dickens, Henry Fielding Dickens and Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens. Bulwer Lytton (author of the famous phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night") and Dickens were good friends.
- Dickens had a pet raven named Grip and when the bird died, he had it stuffed. Gives a whole new meaning to "Evermore."
- Think Harry Potter was the first? There's actually a Dickens-themed amusement park in Chatham, England. You can visit Dickens World and be escorted through a replica of Victorian London by costumed Dickens characters.