countrywide tour that also took in Belfast and Cork. Dickens in Dublin (on tonight at Rathmines Library with actor Laurence Foster) recreates the atmosphere of the Dublin readings to packed houses in the Rotundo’s Round Room - seen above (it is now the Ambassador Theatre) at the head of Sack-ville Street (now O’Connell Street). Prime seats cost five shillings for a numbered and reserved seat in the stalls — about €22 in today’s money (no mention of any booking charges in the Freeman’s Journal ad!) or a mere shilling for an unreserved seat at the back of the auditorium.
Albert Nobbs subsequently worked, Dickens would have passed the photography studio of Simonton and Millard at 39 Lower Sack-ville Street adjoining Jury’s Prince of Wales Hotel - pictured above. It was later known as the Metropole Hotel and a Penneys clothes store now stands on the site. A notice in the Freeman’s Journal of August 28 proudly announced that the studio was displaying
‘Splendid Photographic Portraits of the eminent author,
standing out in life-like reality, as he appears nightly at the Rotundo’.
Especially useful for the many who had failed to get a ticket for the reading was the option of subscribing to a draw for a limited edition of these prints: a steal at just half the price of a ticket to the reading ....they could then perhaps read aloud from Dickens’ prolific output while in the presence, as it were, of the man himself. The Metropole was remodelled in two phases by Dublin architect, William Mansfield: once during 1891-93 and again from 1916-18 when it was rebuilt exactly as it was prior to its destruction during the Easter Rising. The cinema, which opened in 1922, and the ballroom, were great favourites with Dubliners down through the years. You can read about some of those memories in the Lifescapes:Mapping Dublin Lives project, an interactive, multimedia online digital resource from the Bridge-IT Project at Trinity College. But back to the nineteenth century.....
Imperial in Belfast (below) was extended by two storeys containing 24 bedrooms at a cost of £2,000, equivalent to whopping €2.25m today.
Dickens was very pleased with the reception he received when visting Ireland. The Belfast Newsletter review of his appearance noted his remarks that ‘he had never the pleasure of addressing any audience more competent to appreciate the points of his narrative’ in the texts he read there which included some of the ones he read in Dublin: Boots at the Hollytree Inn, Mrs Gamp and The Poor Traveller. The latter was published in Dickens’s weekly magazine Household Words on December 25, 1854. You can read this and lots of other wonderful tales and stories by Dickens and others such as Wilkie Collins, by browsing the Dickens Journals Online website. This digital humanities project used crowdsourcing to recruit volunteer online text editors to assiste the project team and kept us informed of their progress on Twitter and Facebook (see my previous post 'Please Sir, I want some more')
As of today the @Dickens_DJO team have reached their goal of creating a complete online edition of both Household Words and its successor All Year Round in time for today’s anniversary – well done to all!
© Caroline McGee, 7 February 2012
Acknowledgements and further information:
The lead image in this post is a portrait of Charles Dickens painted in 1839 by Daniel Maclise. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw01842/Charles-Dickens?LinkID=mp01294&role=sit&rNo=1
The Lawrence Collection is available from the National Library of Ireland Photographic Archive. Selected images of Cork may be viewed on http://www.corkpastandpresent.ie/mapsimages/corkphotographs/lawrencecollection/
Information on the buildings mentioned in this post come from the Dictionary of Irish Architects at the Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin. It is available on www.dia.ie
Read the Discovering Ireland post An Irish Christmas Carol: Dickens in Ireland on: http://blog.discoverireland.com/2011/12/charles-dickens-in-ireland/
More on Dicken's Cork visit is available here:
Google Doodle courtesy of Google.com
Charles Dickens 200th birthday Google Doodle for Feb 7, 2012
Charles Dickens at 200