Dickens in Lowell

Press Release



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS: 
Beth Brosnan, 603-205-4344
Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209
Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944

UMass Lowell Presents Dickens in Lowell

LOWELL, Mass. – Two hundred years after his birth, Charles Dickens (1812–1870) remains one of the world’s best-known and best-loved writers. Lowell’s love for Dickens goes way back—to 1842, when Dickens, then just 29 but already a literary sensation, visited the city as part of his first American tour. He called his day in Lowell “the most pleasant I spent in the country.”

To mark Dickens’s bicentenary, Lowell is throwing him a party.

From March 30 to October 20, 2012, we’ll celebrate Dickens’s life, his work, and his travels in Lowell and America with over 75 performances, speakers, family and community programs, and a major exhibition, Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation.

Sponsored by UMass Lowell, in partnership with the Lowell National Historical Park, the Tsongas Industrial History Center, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Charles Dickens Museum London, Dickens in Lowell is the largest bicentenary event in New England, and an official part of the Dickens 2012 Worldwide Bicentenary Celebration.

A grand opening reception will be held Friday, March 30, 5-7 p.m., at the Boott Mills Gallery at the Lowell National Historical Park. Other opening weekend events include a Dickens farce performed by Theatre KAPOW; a talk by Florian Schweizer, Director of London’s Charles Dickens Museum; a puppet show by West Point professor Marc Napolitano; Dickens walking tours of Lowell, led by LNHP rangers; and screenings of the Oscar-winning musical, Oliver! (See the schedule of events)

Charles Dickens has been called the greatest English writer of his age, second only to Shakespeare in the sweep of his imagination and the power of his language. His sprawling, richly entertaining novels—some 15 in all, including Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, and Hard Times—continue to speak directly to our own times, and to inspire new generations of readers and writers, filmmakers and playwrights.

Dickens in Lowell catches this literary lion early in his brilliant career, as a young man newly famous, discovering his creative powers and his growing influence as a public figure and social reformer.

Not yet 30 when he first traveled to America, Dickens cut a romantic figure: long-haired and clean-shaven, with a taste for flashy clothing and jewelry, he looked like a Victorian rock star—and Americans quickly caught Dickensmania. Crowds lined the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of him and snip off a lock of his hair or piece of bearskin jacket.

Feted at fancy dress balls and formal dinners, Dickens also made a point of touring American prisons, hospitals, mental institutions, orphanages—and, on a memorable February day, the model textile mills that had recently opened in Lowell, which offered a powerful contrast to the harsh conditions found in most English factories.

While Dickens knew before arriving in the New World that he had become a famous literary man, it was the American trip that showed him the full extent of his power.

Dickens in Lowell represents a unique collaboration between UMass Lowell, the Lowell National Historical Park and a host of Lowell’s leading civic and cultural organizations, with generous support from the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation and the University of Massachusetts President’s Office.




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Dickens in Lowell
 was sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in partnership with the Lowell National Historical Park, the Tsongas Industrial History Center, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Charles Dickens Museum London, and with generous support from the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation and the University of Massachusetts President’s Office.