150 years after his death a search is launched to find the kind of characters the great Charles Dickens would have been describing in the uncertain times of today.
A charity, which the great Charles Dickens helped found, has launched a competition to discover the kind of people living today who might have captured the writer’s imagination and would be his great inspirational characters of the 21st Century.
In just 300 words – with Dickens’s descriptive flamboyance – can you pen a portrait of the 21st century character you think would have deserved his attention?
The Journalists’ Charity has – with the support of the Dickens Fellowship – launched the competition and funds raised from this will help it assist those journalists who are now facing hardship because the coronavirus pandemic has had a serious effect on their livelihoods.
The competition is open to everyone and although free to enter we are encouraging participants and non-participants alike to make a donation to the charity. Full details and rules can be found at www.journalistscharity.org.uk/dickens
In the present climate we might be inspired by Dickens’s own thoughts from Christmas Carol: “It is a fair, even handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
So who are today’s heroes and heroines who might capture your imagination?
Judges for the competition will include Dickens’s great, great, grandson and the Dickens Fellowship. The winning character will be brought to life in a unique illustration by one of Britain’s greatest cartoonists.
Dickens began his glittering career as a freelance Parliamentary reporter and helped set up the Journalists’ Charity which, since 1864, has supported journalists and their families In the UK and Ireland who may have fallen on hard times.
Mr Ian Dickens, President of the Dickens Fellowship, said: “This is such a wonderful competition, full of rich potential and modern-day relevance. The joy of Dickens is the range of characters that inhabit every page. Drawn from acute observation of those he knew and those he chanced upon, they connect with the reader because we all recognise elements within them. And such rich pickings continue to place themselves firmly in front of us every day, if we bother to stop, listen and imagine. I can’t wait to meet them. “
Mr Ramsay Smith, Chairman of the Journalists’ Charity, said: “Our charity is delighted to launch this competition with the support of the Dickens Fellowship. As a pioneer of the charity, Charles Dickens embodied a remarkable charitable spirit that has remained at our core for more than 150 years.
“Journalists the world over are doing a brilliant job reporting the Coronavirus pandemic but the reality is that many, particularly freelance journalists, are facing an extremely challenging time.
“This competition provides a great opportunity for people – journalists and non-journalists alike – to put their creative skills to work in these strange times. We hope everyone who holds the works of Dickens dear will take part.”
Board members from The Journalists’ Charity will be among the judging panel and Mr Ian Dickens, will be joined by Professor Malcolm Andrews, Editor of The Dickensian and Professor Jenny Hartley, Editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens.
It was Dickens who said: “The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish‘ and start saying ‘I will’. Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.“
So, get writing and Good luck!