Friends of the Dickens Forum,
Dickens is so much alive in the imaginations of his readers that
again, here on June 9, 2015,
[..... and here with your indulgence, dear friends, we will re-send
the post of 2012]
..... it is sobering, and almost surprising, to reflect that is the
145th anniversary of Dickens's death. Told and re-told in one
biography after the other, the shocking story retains its power to touch
On Wednesday the 8th, "he put a flourish to the end of the last
chapter of the sixth number of *The Mystery of Edwin
Drood,* exactly the halfway point of the novel." Having sat down to
dinner with Georgina, with whom he was alone save
for the servants, writes Fred Kaplan, "Suddenly she noticed a striking
change in his color and expression. He responded
to her question, was he ill, "'yes, very ill; I have been very ill for
the last hour.'"
She wanted to send for a doctor immediately. But he said no. He
would be all right. He would go on with dinner
and he would be all right. And then he would go to London afterward. He
began talking "rapidly and indistinctly--mentioning
Forster." She begged him to lie down." 'Yes, on the ground,' he
answered." He got up from the table. She tried to hold him
but he slid through her arms, suddenly, immediately, and totally
The following day, the 9th, "At 6 P.M. his breathing declined. Ten
minutes later a tear "trickled down his cheek," He gave
a deep sigh, and stopped breathing altogether."
When we read Kaplan and others, the run-up to this sudden death
gives it an air of inevitability. It became clear that
Dickens had been living at a high pitch of recklessness. His family and
friends worried about him, but his spirits and
high moments were still very high. His writing for *Drood* shows no
signs of a flagging of mind or imaginative power.
And so his sudden death, at the time of occurrence, took everyone by
surprise. All England mourned.
And--need we be told again?--he was only 58 years of age.
Patrick McCarthy UC Santa Barbara Editor, Dickns-l