A visit to Charles Dickens’ house

Charles Dickens Doughty Street London Sonya Heaney February 2017

The view down Doughty Street.

Charles Dickens lived in many different places in his lifetime, but this house near my old home in Holborn, London is the one that has been turned into a museum about his life (and was recently – expensively – renovated).

Even though I lived and worked within a short walk of this house for a couple of years, I never actually visited. And so one chilly day at the end of February, on a short break in London on the way home from Italy, I marched from Covent Garden to pretty Doughty Street to finally pay a visit.

It is an interesting house in its own right, a recreation of middle class life in the Victorian era. I am not a fan of Dickens, the family man (or should I say, Dickens, the man who abandoned his family!), but there is no denying the impact he made on the world.

Naturally, the museum errs on the side of worship, rather than presenting some of the less savoury facts about his life beyond his books.

Dickens’ writing desk.

This is the bedroom where his teenaged sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, died unexpectedly. Dickens had a rather unhealthy obsession with this girl and her “purity”, which would carry over to a fascination with other very young women throughout his life.

The Enterprise and The Dolphin Red Lion Street London February 2017 Sonya Oksana Heaney Holborn Pubs

And, of course, the day wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to my old home – Red Lion Street!

Ukraine offers free metro rides for poetry buffs

Taras Shevchenko (centre) died in St Petersburg in 1861, after a long period of exile imposed by the Russian authorities

The metro in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, is offering free rides to people who can recite a poem by Taras Shevchenko.

Shevchenko died in exile in Russia after being convicted of using the Ukrainian language in his work (the Imperial Russians seriously disliked people using their native languages).

Ukraine has a massive literary heritage – some of “Russia’s” most famous literary figures are actually Ukrainian.

I cannot imagine this poetry-for-free-trains idea working in most countries! One article about it is here:

Free metro rides for Kiev poetry buffs

(One day – probably in about 1600 years – the Western media will catch up with post-Soviet Eastern Europe and start calling Ukraine’s capital city KYIV instead of “Kiev”!)

Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

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Walking Jane Austen’s London contains eight new walks to appeal to Jane Austen enthusiasts, history buffs and anyone who enjoys exploring London. It is lavishly illustrated in colour with detailed maps, original prints of the period and photographs.

Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

Louise Allen is one of my favourite authors, and – in addition to writing excellent Regency-era stories, she produces some non-fiction guidebooks to the London of two hundred years ago.

I’ve owned Walking Jane Austen’s London for a while now, but recently revisited it for an upcoming short trip to the city.

Having lived on Fleet Street (in the City with a capital *C*), in nearby Holborn on the edge of the West End, and in Notting Hill, I find Allen’s guide very useful, as the old rich, Mayfair part of London is probably the bit of town I’m the least familiar with.

This guide points out heaps of little historical details about the streets and buildings you’d otherwise never know, as well as tying it all in to Austen’s books.

Allen has another guide worth a look: Walks Through Regency London.

Walking Jane Austen’s London is interesting if you plan on being in London soon, or if you’re just a fan of historical fiction.

The Week: 14th – 20th November

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Friday evening in Canberra.

Summer is definitely here now! Such a hot, sunny week. We’ve had to start putting water all around the garden for the animals in the area.

Even though I’m refusing to decorate for Christmas until the first of December (as Ukrainians keep celebrating until mid-January), I have basically finished everything else that needs doing (shopping!) for our two Christmases.

I hope everyone in New Zealand is okay after the earthquake. I was in Christchurch just before the quake a few years ago. It was so sad.

New cover for Joanna Shupe

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My review of Fall (Rock Solid #2) by Karina Bliss

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My review of Reunited at Christmas (Alaskan Grooms #4) by Belle Calhoune

Reunited at Christmas (Alaskan Grooms #4) by Belle Calhoune

My review of The Danger of Desire (Sinful Suitors #3) by Sabrina Jeffries

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On this day: the premiere of Little Women

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On this day: the premiere of Little Women

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The 1933 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic book Little Women premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York on the 16th of November. Starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo, Frances Dee as Meg, Jean Parker as Beth, and Joan Bennett as Amy, all of the girls’ characters were played by women significantly older. Spring Byington played Marmee.

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In its initial run, the film broke attendance records, and it went on to be nominated for a number of Academy Awards. Husband-and-wife scriptwriting team Victor Heerman and Sarah Y. Mason won for their screenplay.