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March 2012

Posted on 13/03/2012

Charles Dickens and the 'Amateur Players'

Charles Dickens as Bobadil 


Charles Dickens is known to have formed a theatrical group known as the ‘Amateur Players’ with a number of literary and artistic friends. This page from the Illustrated London Newspaper, dated 22 November 1845, relates to the performance of Ben Jonson’s ‘Every Man in his Humour’ by the ‘Amateur Players’ at the St James’s Theatre. The engravings, including one of Charles Dickens as the character of Bobadil, allow us to imagine the amateur theatrical efforts of Dickens and his contemporaries. This performance was to be repeated in 1847 in Manchester and Liverpool to raise funds for the pension of Leigh Hunt, a writer and critic.

To mark Dickens’s bicentenary this year, Royal Holloway Library has hosted a number of events and the first of these – Dickens + Afternoon Tea in the Picture Gallery (http://www.rhul.ac.uk/library/events/cityread2012.aspx) – included an exhibition of some of Dickens’s early work and also some unique pieces from the Royal Holloway Archives. These included letters from Dickens, and a record of his daughter’s admission to Bedford College in 1853. However, it was really surprising (to me, at least!) to find out about Dickens’s ‘Amateur Players’ and to find that this excellent depiction of the man himself is part of the collection here at Royal Holloway.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Royal Holloway’s connection to Charles Dickens, or more of the Roy Waters theatre collection from which this item is taken, please email archives@rhul.ac.uk

This item, along with other from the Dickens + Afternoon Tea exhibition will be on display in the Archives until 6th April. For more information on our Writer’s Workshop events with Adam Roberts and Lynn Shepherd, visit the website http://www.rhul.ac.uk/library/events/cityread2012.aspx or email k.coles@rhul.ac.uk.


Kim Coles, Information Assistant



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