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Dickens 2012 Unveils New Projects to Mark One Year Countdown

Date posted: 08.02.2011

Dickens 2012 is an international celebration of the life and work of Victorian author Charles Dickens (1812-1870) in 2012, the year that will see the bicentenary of the author's birth. The campaign, which is co-ordinated by the Charles Dickens Museum and Film London in association with The Dickens Fellowship, will see a plethora of events and initiatives taking place worldwide.

New film and theatre productions, a film and TV retrospective season, exhibitions, theatre plays and a special edition £2 coin are amongst the plans to celebrate the life and legacy of Dickens, believed by many to be the greatest British novelist of all times.

On what would have been Dickens's 199th birthday, Dickens 2012 announced the launch of a new website and details of some of the activity that will not only celebrate one of the world's most significant authors, but also provide inspiration and a legacy for future generations.

Celebrations on Screen

The BFI Southbank will host what will be the largest and most comprehensive ever film and television retrospective of works adapted or inspired by Dickens's prose. The three month season will screen classics such as David Lean's Oliver Twist alongside unknown and forgotten jewels. The retrospective will premiere in January 2012 before setting off on a UK and international tour.

A new film adaptation of Great Expectations, produced by Stephen Woolley (The Crying Game) and Elizabeth Karlsen (Little Voice), is now in underway with Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell set to step behind the camera as director.

Meanwhile, the BBC announced a Dickens season as part of its Year of Books, which will include a new documentary about the Victorian author for BBC Arena as well as two new drama series. BBC Radio 4 will broadcast five new adapted plays accompanied by an innovative artist film project commissioned by Film London with the support of Arts Council England.

Dickens for All

Other initiatives include a special edition £2 coin issued by the Royal Mint to mark the bicentenary and a brand new monument dedicated to Dickens is planned for the London Borough of Southwark.

Portsmouth, the city where Dickens was born, unveiled its first Poet Laureate this week in honour of its most famous son. Young poet KeliAnne B will promote literacy and poetry in the city whilst a new monument and a programme of widespread literary events will also commemorate the bicentenary.

Exhibitions celebrating various aspects of Dickens's life and work as a story-teller will take place all over the world, including Museum Strauhof in Switzerland and Chateau d'Hardelot in Pas-de-Calais, France. In London, the Museum of London will host a major exhibit to explore the relationship between Dickens and the English capital. Although born in Portsmouth, Dickens spent much of his life in London, a place which also became a foremost inspiration in his novels. The V&A, the British Library and the Watts Gallery in Surrey will also mark the bicentenary with special exhibitions.

In theatre, the first ever stage adaptation of Dickens's 'The Life of Our Lord' is planned to hit the West End in spring 2012 and BAFTA®-winning actress Miriam Margolyes's one-woman play 'Dickens' Women' will go on tour in 2012. Progressive group Punchdrunk and Arcola Theatre in London have also teamed up for a special collaboration.

The British Council is developing an online interactive forum for emerging writers plus a programme of activities to take place all over the world and academics and Dickens scholars will also have their pick, with literary competitions and events as well as the international touring conference 'A Tale of Four Cities' cementing Dickens's status as a writer of foremost relevance still today.

Looking at the bicentenary celebrations Mark Dickens, head of the Dickens family, commented: "I have often wondered why my great great grandfather is still held in such high regard as one of the greatest authors of the English speaking world after so many years, but it is true that his writing is as relevant to society today as it was in Victorian times, and his captivating characters are still all around us."

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London, added: "Dickens's stories have spawned films, plays, television dramas and musicals and after Shakespeare, no other writer matches Dickens in terms of global cultural influence. The 200th anniversary of his birth in 2012 offers a unique opportunity to commemorate the life, work and values of a national treasure, not just in Britain but around the world. As a huge Dickens enthusiast and fan I for one am extremely excited by what is on offer. It is also gratifying to see the Dickens 2012 programme includes so many cultural and educational organizations giving Charles Dickens the platform he deserves to celebrate his genius to mark this anniversary."

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