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Christmas Pudding

December 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens 

Christmas TreeOh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such at such a thing. ~  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

For any adventurous cooks out there that want to make their own Christmas pudding, here’s a recipe from The Book Of Household Management by Mrs. Isabella Beeton, published in installments between 1859 and 1861.

CHRISTMAS PLUM-PUDDING.

 INGREDIENTS.—1-1/2 lb. of raisins, 1/2 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of mixed peel, 3/4 lb. of bread crumbs, 3/4 lb. of suet, 8 eggs, 1 wineglassful of brandy.

Mode.—Stone and cut the raisins in halves, but do not chop them; wash, pick, and dry the currants, and mince the suet finely; cut the candied peel into thin slices, and grate down the bread into fine crumbs. When all these dry ingredients are prepared, mix them well together; then moisten the mixture with the eggs, which should be well beaten, and the brandy; stir well, that everything may be very thoroughly blended, and press the pudding into a buttered mould; tie it down tightly with a floured cloth, and boil for 5 or 6 hours. It may be boiled in a cloth without a mould, and will require the same time allowed for cooking. As Christmas puddings are usually made a few days before they are required for table, when the pudding is taken out of the pot, hang it up immediately, and put a plate or saucer underneath to catch the water that may drain from it. The day it is to be eaten, plunge it into boiling water, and keep it boiling for at least 2 hours; then turn it out of the mould, and serve with brandy-sauce. On Christmas-day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wineglassful of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to table encircled in flame.

Time.—5 or 6 hours the first time of boiling; 2 hours the day it is to be served.

Average cost, 4s.

Sufficient for a quart mould for 7 or 8 persons.

Seasonable on the 25th of December, and on various festive occasions till March.

If the above looks a little complicated, here’s a modern version of a Christmas pudding recipe.

Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist

December 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens 

Becoming DickensWhile there’s been a lot of attention on Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: A Life it isn’t the only new Dickens biography around.   Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst also gives us a look at the private life of Charles Dickens.  However Douglas-Fairhurst’s book is a little different.  Rather than focusing on the entire life of Dickens, the biography examines Dickens’s life in the 1830s.

Becoming Dickens tells the story of how an ambitious young Londoner became England’s greatest novelist. In following the twists and turns of Charles Dickens’s early career, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst examines a remarkable double transformation: in reinventing himself Dickens reinvented the form of the novel. It was a high-stakes gamble, and Dickens never forgot how differently things could have turned out. Like the hero of Dombey and Son, he remained haunted by “what might have been, and what was not.”

Douglas-Fairhurst’s provocative new biography, focused on the 1830s, portrays a restless and uncertain Dickens who could not decide on the career path he should take and would never feel secure in his considerable achievements.

Today in Literature

December 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens, Noteworthy Links, Site News 

Charles Dickens
Are you familiar with Today in Literature?  It’s an informative site that features a daily article on literary history.  Today’s post is about Dickens’s 1867 trip to America.

If you like Today in Literature you’ll love our daily quote page! The daily quote page features a snippet of the Today in Literature daily article, a daily quote and a LitQuote Duo.  It’s truly bookmark worthy!

Grip the Raven

November 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens 

“Halloa, halloa, halloa! What’s the matter here! Keep up your spirits. Never say die. Bow wow wow. I’m a devil, I’m a devil, I’m a devil. Hurrah!”

The above  is a quote from Baranaby Rudge by Charles Dickens.  Can you identify the speaker of these lines?  A gold star to you if you said, “Grip the raven.”

What you may not know, and I didn’t until recently, is that Dickens really had a pet raven named Grip.  While Dickens was writing Barnaby Rudge he wanted to get a better idea about what a pet raven would be like.  So he acquired Grip.  That raven was quite a handful!  Because of Grip’s propensity for biting children he was banished from the home and  ended up living in the carriage house.

Edgar Allan Poe

Grip’s influence didn’t end with Dickens either.  An interesting aside is that Grip may have provided inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.  While there’s no direct evidence that one work inspired the other, it does seem likely.  Poe read Barnaby Rudge and even reviewed it for Graham’s Magazine.

In 1841 Grip passed away Dickens had him stuffed.  Grip was sold in an auction after Dickens died and eventually came to be owned by Philadelphia’s Colonel Richard Gimbel as part of his collection of objects relating to Edgar Allan Poe.  Later Gimbel’s collection was donated to the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Ten Facts About Charles Dickens

November 7, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Charles Dickens 

Here are ten quick facts about Charles Dickens from the folks at AbeBooks.com.  One of the facts concerns Dickens participation in the Ghost Club.  I’ve read a lot about Dickens, but not much about that aspect of his life.  Interesting!

Charles Dickens and Captain Murderer!

October 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens 

Charles Dickens Are you ready for a gruesome Halloween tale featuring Charles Dickens?  Then head on over to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s site to learn about Charles Dickens, the Supernatural and Captain Murderer.

While our partner site, Charles Dickens Info, touches on Captain Murder the article from HSP provides more chilling details of the vile villain.

The young woman who brought me acquainted with Captain Murderer had a fiendish enjoyment of my terrors, and used to begin, I remember – as a sort of introductory overture – by clawing the air with both hands, and uttering a long low hollow groan. So acutely did I suffer from this ceremony in combination with this infernal Captain, that I sometimes used to plead I thought I was hardly strong enough and old enough to hear the story again just yet. The Uncommercial Traveller – Nurse’s Stories by Charles Dickens

If you haven’t heard about The Uncommercial Traveler, here’s the scoop.  In 1859 Dickens founded a new journal called All the Year Round.  The Uncommercial Traveller articles by Dickens appeared in that journal.  Seventeen Uncommercial Traveller articles were printed in All the Year Round in 1860.  Dickens wrote eleven more articles between 1863 and 1865.  A few more were written between 1868 and 1869.

Holy Christmas Carol, Batman!

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens, LitQuotes in Comics 

Batman: NoelOn November 8th DC Comics is going to release Batman: Noel.  In this graphic novel the Dark Knight looks at his past, present and future.  (Hmmm . . . does this sound like any Dickens character we know?)  Robin, Catwoman, Superman and The Joker all take part in this journey.

Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin

October 6, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Charles Dickens 

Dickens A LifeJust in time for his 200th birthday, Claire Tomalin, the author of The Invisible Woman, comes out with Charles Dickens: A Life. (The book will be released October 27, but can be pre-ordered now.)

Amazon has this to say about Charles Dickens: A Life, “Charles Dickens: A Life gives full measure to Dickens’s heroic stature-his huge virtues both as a writer and as a human being- while observing his failings in both respects with an unblinking eye. Renowned literary biographer Claire Tomalin crafts a story worthy of Dickens’s own pen, a comedy that turns to tragedy as the very qualities that made him great-his indomitable energy, boldness, imagination, and showmanship-finally destroyed him. The man who emerges is one of extraordinary contradictions, whose vices and virtues were intertwined as surely as his life and his art.”

The Invisible Woman – The Affair of Charles Dickens

September 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens, LitNews 

Invisible WomanOne of the first biographies I read about Charles Dickens was The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin.  The book focuses on Dickens’ affair with the actress Ellen Ternan.

Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan met in 1857; she was 18, a hard-working actress performing in his production of The Frozen Deep, and he was 45, the most lionized writer in England. Out of their meeting came a love affair that lasted thirteen years and destroyed Dickens’s marriage while effacing Nelly Ternan from the public record.

In this remarkable work of biography and scholarly reconstruction, the acclaimed biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys and Jane Austen rescues Nelly from the shadows of history, not only returning the neglected actress to her rightful place, but also providing a compelling portrait of the great Victorian novelist himself. The result is a thrilling literary detective story and a deeply compassionate work that encompasses all those women who were exiled from the warm, well-lighted parlors of Victorian England.

You can learn more about Dickens’ marriage and affair on our partner site, Charles Dickens Info.

 

Grave Expectations

August 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Charles Dickens, LitNews 

At the end of this month another horror rewrite of classic literature will hit the bookstores.  Grave Expectations by Sherri Browning Erwin and Charles Dickens will show us Pip and Estella as we’ve never seen them before.

Per Amazon’s website, “Bristly, sensitive, and meat-hungry Pip is a robust young whelp, an orphan born under a full moon. Between hunting escaped convicts alongside zombified soldiers, trying not to become one of the hunted himself, and hiding his hairy hands from the supernaturally beautiful and haughty Estella, whose devilish moods keep him chomping at the bit, Pip is sure he will die penniless or a convict like the rest of his commonly uncommon kind.”

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