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As Actor

As Playwright

As Public Reader

Dickens Onstage

Shorter Works

The Novels


Program announcing Dickens's "Farewell Readings." 1868
In fact, he continued his readings well into 1870, only months before his death.

During the last decade of his life, Dickens traveled to many cities in the United States and throughout England, engaging in a series of sold-out public readings from his own works. He claimed he needed the money, but those who sat in the audience knew he was satisfying far deeper needs. These were no mere readings; they were performances of startling potency. When Dickens stood at the podium and recreated Bill Sikes's brutal murder of Nancy, his fists aloft and cries of "Mercy" splitting the air, ladies fainted and gentlemen cried. This was Dickens the actor - as he had always longed to be. His personal reading copies, on display in the exhibit cases, at the exhibition, are replete with his annotations and indicate the precision of his performances.