A life in letters Charles Dickens

A special evening in Belper will celebrate the life and work of Charles Dickens with stories and performances.

The bicentenary celebration of the author’s birth takes place at the Strutts Community Centre, on Derby Road, and has been organised by the venue’s events committee.

Dickens himself was acclaimed for his lively readings of his own work and the night will see local people perform and read in the same style.

Joan Hardy, a former drama teacher at Belper School and chairman of the committee, said: “Charles Dickens himself conducted extensive reading tours and kept audiences captivated by his story-telling abilities and the dramatic presentation of his colourful characters.

“This year is the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth, and therefore a good time to draw attention to the lasting legacy of his novels.

“I am a great fan his observation of people and the way he produces characters and caricatures to illustrate how life was in Victorian London and to slyly make comments.

“Dickens was a social reformer – he really objected to poverty and lack of education.

“He was the ultimate story teller and the extracts have been chosen by the performers for maximum impact, so I am looking forward to this rather unusual evening of entertainment.”

The hall will be decked with foliage in imitation of Dickens’ own performances.

Louis Pella, a former student from Belper School, will present a specially-made short film.

Joan, 60, who has visited Dickens’ home in London, says one of her favourite novels is Great Expectations.

She said: “It’s so beautifully told from the convict in the graveyard and the wonderful character of Joe Gargery.”

Dickens undertook a series of hugely popular and remunerative reading tours.

His first, from April 1858 to February 1859, consisted of 129 appearances in 49 different towns throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.

The event takes place on Saturday, September 22, at 7.30pm.

A Victorian Supper of pie and peas will also be served. A bar will be available.

Tickets are £5 and are available from Strutts and from The News Shop on King Street, Belper.

All proceeds will be used for the upkeep of the Stutts building.