Syllabus of Meetings 2019

Members of the Melbourne Dickens Fellowship hold regular meetings at The Faichney Room

Toorak Uniting Church, 603 Toorak Rd, Toorak, Victoria starting 7:30pm for 7:45pm
We welcome visitors. Please just come along & announce yourself. (Map)

If you have any questions or are interested in joining, please CONTACT US


Event / Presentation

Friday February 8th Birthday Dinner: Guest Speaker Peter Craven. 6:00pm for 6:30pm
March 20th Introduction to Hard Times: Elisabeth Neales
This presentation will be held in the Toorak Uniting Church with supper in the Faichney Room afterwards.
In this introduction to Hard Times, Elisabeth Neales will outline the plot and introduce the main characters.
Short readings by members of the Fellowship will remind those who have not read the novel recently and introduce it to those who have never read it.
April 17th From Coketown to Lyon: Brian Ruck

The idea for this presentation sprang from the fact that in the novel Hard Times, the cotton mill owner Mr Bounderby, took his new bride Louisa, on honeymoon to Lyon in France so that he could find out how ‘the hands’ were treated in that city. Mr Bounderby had got into his head the notion that his factory workers, ‘the hands’ as he called them, were a lazy bunch of people who expected to eat turtle soup with gold-plated spoons, and he wanted to see first-hand what was happening in other industries, in particular, the silk weaving industry for which Lyon was famous.

This talk will explore the trials, tribulations and vicissitudes of those involved in the cotton industry and of those involved in the silk industry, in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

May 15th The Children of Dickens: Elna Estcourt
Charles and Catherine Dickens had 10 children, many of whom were a disappointment to their father. Just over 20 years ago, Elna’s alter-ego, “Katey Dickens” (Dickens’ second daughter), visited the Melbourne Branch, sharing her family album and recollections with our members. She has been asked to return in order to remind old members and inform the new ones, of the lives and fortunes of these 10 children.
June 19th Dickens and Industry: Mills, Mill-Owners and Manufacturers: Alan Dilnot
Beginning with a brief reference to Pickwick Papers Alan Dilnot will go on to the two industrial scenes in The Old Curiosity Shop.
Next will be the iron master and his works in Bleak House, to be followed by Hard Times.
After that will come brief references to Little Dorrit , Mugby Junction and George Silverman’s Explanation.
There will be passing allusions to Elizabeth Gaskell and Herman Melville.
The main objective will be to check how accurate Ruskin was when he described Dickens as “the leader of the steam-whistle party par excellence”.
July 17th The President’s Night – A Dickens Gallery: Dennis Marriott
The President will show pictures of a selection of Dickens’ acquaintances talking of their lives and their relationship with Dickens.
August 21st (1) Education in the 19th Century: Catherine Davison, Jan Pearse and Renata McKay
(2) Divorce in England in the 1850s: Lindsey Burton
(3) Nominations for Office Bearers and Committee
(1) The development of general education in England over the course of the nineteenth century was haphazard and hesitant involving church, charity and voluntary societies and eventually the State. This presentation details the various types of schools some of which Dickens knew firsthand through his own education and his observations and visits to London’s Ragged Schools. A brief timeline and a taste of the Victorian curriculum will give you all the hard facts Mr. Gradgrind demands.
(2) Among Protestant countries, 19th century England was unique in restrictions on divorce.  This began to change in the 1850s.(3) Nomination forms available at the Meeting.
September 18th Annual General Meeting and Elections
Newer Members’ Night
This gives newer members the opportunity to read and speak about some aspect of Dickens.
October 16th (1) Names in Dickens: Carmel Hurst and Shirley Anderson
(2) The Circus in Hard Times: Veronica Delafosse
(1) Descriptions of a selection of names.

(2) The value of the circus is not only to bring amusement but to bring compassion to industrial society.

November 20th Dickens, Deafness and Doctor Marigold: Andrew Gemmell
Doctor Marigold is about a poor man who makes a living as a discount street retailer or, in his own words, a Cheap Jack. The story is classic Dickens. One of its themes concerns the deafness of his daughter. We will go on to explore deafness in history with special reference to Victorian England, followed by personal experiences from some of our members.
December 11th Christmas Party
Traditional Readings, Music, Singing, Presents, Raffle and Supper.