Dickens to walk in author's steps

Dickens is returning to Preston, almost 150 years after the great author's last visit.

Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 4:00 pm
Gerald Dickens on stage

Gerald Dickens, great great grandson of Charles Dickens, will be walking in the footsteps of his world famous ancestor with a one-man charity show at the city’s Playhouse on March 25.

And on the bill will be a recital of Doctor Marigold, a reading his great great grandfather performed on stage at a packed Theatre Royal in Preston in 1867.

Charles Dickens (right) made at least three visits to Preston between 1854 and 1869. It is said he was influenced by the place and its people when he wrote the novel Hard Times.

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His last trip was in 1869 when he was booked to appear at the old Guild Hall. But he was forced to cancel the performance of Oliver Twist just hours before curtain-up on doctor’s advice. He died the following year aged 58.

“I saw Gerald on stage in Liverpool and he is incredibly talented,” said Karen Rainford who has organised the show in aid of a charity which helps educate children in Swaziland.

“He is keen to come to Preston and perform Doctor Marigold, because his great great grandfather performed the work here just a couple of hundred yards from the Preston Playhouse in 1867.”

“He is fantastic. He acts out and performs adding props when needed. He is a talented raconteur and his interpretation of Dickens’ works is absolutely mesmerising.”

It won’t be the first time Gerald Dickens has traced his illustrious relative’s journey to Preston. He came here to perform Nicholas Nickledby at the Charter Theatre in 2013 and said at the time: “It’s amazing to follow in his footsteps. I believe Hard Times is very much based on the Preston area.”