Today is Charles Dickens's 200th birthday and that is a big deal. Not just in Britain, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are celebrating the event in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey but in countries from Albania to Zimbabwe are holding a read-a-thon from the author's work.
Dickens' biographer, Claire Tomalin, has written him (or his ghost) a letter published in The Guardian that is worth a look. She notes that Dickens himself went to a ceremony to mark the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, which is an interesting way to allude to the fact that Dickens is the only English writer who comes close to Shakespeare for the sheer scale of creativity and for his enduring popularity.
I'm a bit caught up in the celebrating - I recently read Tomalin's thorough and lengthy biography, Charles Dickens: A Life, in a couple of days, couldn't put it down. This surprises me because I am not a big fan of his work.