Great Expectations for Dickens’ 200th birthday in Battersea


Celebrations for Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday will reach Battersea this month with a free recital expressing his relationship with London.


By Ryan Walters

Celebrations for Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday will reach Battersea later this month in the form of a free recital expressing his unique relationship with London.  

As part of Cityread, a wider London libraries’ initiative, and in association with Roehampton University, Wandsworth Council are hosting five events within their libraries throughout April. 

Dickens and the Metropolis, held at Battersea Library on April 16, will explore how Dickens thrived on the vitality and buzz of the capital, while still choosing to expose its inequalities in his writing. 

Cityread, developed by Stellar Libraries, hopes to attract more Londoners into libraries by encouraging them to attend events across the capital and read Oliver Twist, the campaign’s headline novel.  

Stellar Libraries Director, Andy Ryan, proclaimed the overriding aim is to highlight that books and fiction are not the only resources that libraries offer.

“The way people are accessing their information and reading material is changing,” said Ms Ryan.

“It’s not just about reading but it’s about accessing information in all sorts of ways that libraries are still doing for free or for very cheap in many cases.”

Nicola Humble, Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University, is asking Londoners to get involved, suggesting Dickens will help you rediscover the city.

“If you take ten minutes to step off the main street in your commuting rush you can find places straight out of his stories,” she said.

“His books are huge fun and there is such enjoyment in the astonishing use of language. Then there are his characters; an amazing gallery of grotesques.

“It is as if he is reinventing English.”

Ms Ryan hopes the initiative, in its inaugural year, will provide some positive stories for libraries after the recent negative press on library closures.  

“If everyone is seeing stories about libraries needing to be saved you can forget that they are actually still really valid,” she said.

“Hopefully by discovering your library through Cityread, this will encourage you to then be more engaged with its services for the rest of the year.”

Tickets for Dickens and the Metropolis can be booked on 020 8871 7466. For more information on Cityread visit:


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