What the Dickens...!
On September 16th 1858, Charles Dickens gave a reading of "A Christmas Carol" to a well attended audience at the Odd Fellows' Hall. The reading lasted just over two hours.
The local newspaper of the time, the Halifax Guardian reported that the audience was "large and enthusiastic". As Dickens approached the stage, he was greeted with "loud applause". The Guardian reporter commented that the audience were both attentive and responsive to the story, no doubt welcoming an opportunity to listen to a well renowned literary figure reading his own work.
Dickens is reported as being a man possessing "great power", with a "quiet unpretending manner", who produced great effect "without any theatrical mannerisms".
Although Dickens was very well received, local residents may well have been offended by his disparaging remarks made in the "Dickensian". He wrote of his visit -
"Halifax was too small for us. I never saw such an audience though. They were really worth reading to for nothing, though I didn't exactly do that. It is as horrible a place as I ever saw, I think".
Charles Dickens also had another connection with Halifax.
Catherine Hogarth lived for three of her teenage years in Halifax. Together with her sister, Mary, she attended a private school in the town. Tradition has it that the two sisters were often seen walking from Wards End to St John's Lane and beyond.
Catherine was the eldest daughter of George Hogarth. Mr Hogarth was the son of a wealthy farmer from the Scottish Borders, who had been appointed the first editor of the Halifax Guardian. When the Hogarth family moved to London, Dickens became acquainted with the family and eventually married Catherine.
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