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Friday, February 3, 2012

Charles Dickens–The Jon Stewart Of His Day?

Next Tuesday fans of the great British novelist Charles Dickens will celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Through memorable characters such as the plucky orphan Oliver Twist, the bad boss Ebeneezer Scrooge,  the long-suffering employee, Bob Cratchit, and son, Tiny Tim, Dickens brought to life the hardships of the working poor as England’s industrial revolution churned full steam.

‘Like Jon Stewart’

“People think of Dickens as that old guy with the beard that’s not relevant. And he is relevant! In fact, I think of him as sort of like Jon Stewart, he uses wit,” Dickens scholar Diana Archibald told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Dickens became so famous for his novels that he was greeted like a rock star during his first visit to the U.S. in 1842.

And he could have rested on those laurels but instead, on Feb. 3, 1842, he paid what would become a transformative visit the famous mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, which at the time were considered model factories where workers were treated better.


  • Diana Archibald, associate professor of English at the UMass Lowell, where she is co-curator and lead scholar of a bicentenary exhibition about Dickens.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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