Timely words, as today marks the long awaited Dickens bicentenary. If Dickens did indeed relish an extravagant birthday soirée, there’s no doubt he would be pleased with the hoopla surrounding today’s anniversary festivities. Throughout the world’s libraries, museums, and bookstores, readers far and wide are celebrating the life and work of one of history’s most beloved novelists. In New York the Morgan Library & Museum is offering free admission to their ongoing Charles Dickens at 200 exhibition, featuring a collection of Dickens’ original letters and manuscripts, while Philadelphia's Free Library continues to exhibit their “Year of Dickens” rare book collection. In the author’s home country, the British Council is hosting a global twenty four hour read-a-thon, comprised of five minute excerpts read from different Dickens texts from countries including China, Pakistan, Albania, and Russia, while over at TIME.com Radhika Jones has been counting down Dickens’ top ten greatest novels (spoiler alert: Bleak House takes the cake). Dickens devotees can test their knowledge of his life and work with quizzes hosted by The Huffington Post and USA Today, and for even more ideas Popcandy has a great list of eleven ways to celebrate, including a video tour of Dickens’ native city and a link to ten little known facts about the author.
On the occasion of Dickens’s 200th birthday, Hitchens delivered this gift to his readers: “You can forget that sense of guilt you have. The one about being not quite sure which character is from which book. None of us really knows, and there is no shame in it. Probably Dickens himself wasn’t certain much of the time.”
While Hitchens’ generosity is well appreciated, we’d like to offer something a little more tangible as a way to commemorate Dickens at two hundred—the eagerly awaited new additions to the Nonesuch Dickens collection: The Pickwick Papers, The Old Curiosity Shop, and Our Mutual Friend. Packaged in a three-volume leather and cloth bound cased set, these contemporary versions of Dickens’ classic work are based on the historic Chapman and Hall editions of 1867 that were personally supervised by Dickens himself. Available for the first time in decades, the Nonesuch editions contain full-color illustrations selected by the author and we are delighted to be giving away a complete set of all three books to one lucky winner.
To enter, all you have to do is comment on this post, tweet to @OverlookPress using the #Dickens2012 hashtag, or comment on our facebook page. Contestants can enter once in each category until 9am tomorrow morning, at which point we will announce a randomly selected winner. Please leave an email address when entering so we can contact you if you’ve been selected. Good luck!