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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 18:02:19 -0700
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Friends of the Dickens Forum,

The thread begun by  Michael Allen (see below) has mutated somewhat so 
that the bicycling
aspect has been changed and the notion of a Pickwick Club introduced.   
Robert Davis
<[log in to unmask]> makes his claim for the Dorchester 
Pickwick Club, founded in
1855:                                                     (pjm)

> Dear Patrick:
> I take note of Bob Tracy's fascinating note on the Pickwick Cycling Club,
> but would like to add a correction to the claim that it was the first
> organization to celebrate our great author, having been founded in 1870. I
> have in my possession a small archive of the Dorchester (Massachusetts)
> Pickwick Club from the late 19th Century. Dorchester was the earliest,
> largest and most successful Pilgrim settlement in America, dating to 1630,
> one month before the founding of Boston. It was an independent town until
> 1870, when it was annexed by Boston. There was an argument over who annexed
> whom. It was also on Dorchester Heights on Boston Harbor, that George
> Washington, on March 17, 1776, watched the British Army and Navy leave the
> Boston area (celebrated as Evacuation Day). It was also, incidentally, my
> home from age 3 till age 16, when I went off to college, the beneficiary of
> the Stoughton Scholarship of 1720 for residents of Dorchester, a very
> different place in 1929-43 than in 1720. My ties are thus close to the
> lower middle class town in which I grew up.
> I hasten to point out proudly that the Dorchester Pickwick club was founded
> before the American Civil war, on December 6, 1855, by a group of literary
> men, mostly men of business fond of literature and debate, and limited to
> 50 members. Of those 50, 22 served in the Civil War and many were killed
> (see Wil
> liam Dana Orcutt, "Glorious Dorchester, A Narrative History", University
> Press, Cambridge, 1893, pp. 422–426; also, The New England Historical and
> Genealogical Register, Vol. 22). Moreover, after the Civil War, the members
> of the Dorchester Pickwick Club raised the funds to erect the Dorchester
> Soldiers' Monument, completed and dedicated in 1867 on Old Meeting-House
> Hill., a monument dedicated to the soldiers who had fallen, to patriotism
> and to defense of religious liberty. This noble literary society, inspired
> by Dickens and Samuel Pickwick lasted into the early twentieth century.
> A further aside is the "The All Around Dickens Club" was founded in Boston
> in 1895 by a group of literary women, with many prominent British
> Dickensians as Honorary Members. Both organizations may have, in part,
> inspired the formation of the Dickens Fellowship. The Dorchester Pickwick
> Club, however, long preceded the Pickwick Cycling Club.
> Bob Davis
> On Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 2:19 PM, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]
>> wrote:
>> Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>>      Robert Tracy <[log in to unmask]> <[log in to unmask]> has looked
>> into the Pickwick Bicycling Club
>> for us:
>>                                  (pjm)
>> Dear Friends:
>> See Wikipedia for the Pickwick Bicycling Club, founded in
>> Hackney on 22 June 1870, 13 days after Dickens's death. It is indeed the
>> oldest cycling club in the world, and also the oldest organization to be
>> named after Dickens.There is a photo of the six founders with their
>> "Penny-farthings." Like the Pickwickians, members had and still have a club
>> uniform which has changed over the years: currently they wear straw
>> boaters, black and yellow striped blazers, and a black and yellow striped
>> tie. Each member chooses a name from among the characters in PP, and the
>> president is alway called Samuel Pickwick. The badge shows a large P, with
>> a smaller B and C on either side.
>> Robert Tracy
>> Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>>      The book Michael Allen refers to was first published in 1891 and is
>> described as "Personal Reminisces of
>> the'Inimitable Boz' with More than a Hundred Illustrations by F.G. Kitton
>> and Other Artists."  It is one of those books
>> we came across early in our lives, glanced at, and dismissed as trivia.
>> Leave it to Michael Allen to look at it carefully
>> and find an interesting and fresh detail:<[log in to unmask]> <[log in to unmask]> <[log in to unmask]> <[log in to unmask]>
>> (pjm)
>> Dear Patrick,
>> I was recently looking through a rather obscure item, a newspaper report
>> from the Birmingham Daily Mail in 1887, reporting on the collection of the
>> Dickens enthusiast William R. Hughes, who wrote the book "A week's tramp in
>> Dickens-land".  Hughes collected all manner of material but the following
>> reference particularly caught my eye:
>> "Does a new work on cycling appear, it passes at once into Mr Hughes'
>> possession, because of a two line reference to the person who taught Dickens
>> to use a bicycle, and a mention of the fact that the first bicycling
>> organisation formed was called the Pickwick Club".
>> I can't recollect seeing any other reference to Dickens riding a bicycle.
>> Indeed, I find it difficult to envisage Dickens on a bike.  Can the vast
>> experience of Dickens-Listers add anything more to this brief encounter?
>> Best wishes, Michael Allen.