Dickens pp 96-104 | Cite as

In the Chair

  • George Eliot
  • Others
Part of the Interviews and Recollections book series (IR)


[Dickens’s presiding at the first Annual Soirée of the Manchester Athenaeum in the Manchester Free Trade Hall, 5 October 1843, was the largest public occasion he had chaired, to date. The Athenaeum was one of the most prominent adult-education establishments in the country, but was running short of funds; this and subsequent soirées mended the situation. The following account of the occasion is by Sir Edward Watkin, Bart., MP (1819–1901), Director of the Athenaeum at the time, who writes:] The Soirée of 1843 was stamped with success by the presidency of Charles Dickens…. We were indebted for the presence of Charles Dickens to the kind influence of his elder sister — Mrs. Burnett [who was then living in Manchester] — a self-denying saint, if ever one existed.... [Watkin quotes from his diary of the time:] Mr. Dickens wrote to us, desiring an interview for Wednesday night, October 4, to arrange for the meeting…. [So Watkin, with two colleagues, called upon him at the Burnetts’ house.]


Free Trade Anterior Lobe Daily News Council Meeting Public Subscription 
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  1. 4.
    Sir E. W. Watkin, Alderman Cobden of Manchester (1891) pp.123–30.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    George Hodder, Memories of My Time (1870) pp. 142–6. For Dickens’s activities on behalf of the Elton Fund, see P, III, 527–37 and passim. George Hodder (1819–70), journalist, first met Dickens over this affair. Later Dickens was to help him in various ways.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Letter of 5 May 1852, from The George Eliot Letters, ed. Gordon S. Haight (1954), 11, 23. The phraseology of George Eliot’s letter reflects her belief, at that time, in phrenology. The ‘anterior lobe’ governed the intellectual faculties such as Causality and Comparison.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Sir John R. Robinson, ‘Charles Dickens and the Guild of Literature and Art’, Cornhill Magazine, n. s. XVI (1904) 28–33. As Robinson’s reminiscences suggest, the Guild met with many difficulties, accomplished little, and was later wound up. For his other reminiscences of Dickens see Justin H. McCarthy and Sir John Robinson, The Daily.News jubilee (1896) and Fifty Tears of Fleet Street: Being the Life and Recollections of Sir John R. Robinson, ed. Frederick Moy Thomas (1 904).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Leading article, Manchester Guardian, 4 Dec 1858, repr. in Dkn, xxxiv (1938) 140–1. For Dickens’s speech, see Speeches pp. 278–85.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Maltus Questell Holyoake, ‘Memories of Charles Dickens’, Chambers’s journal, 5th ser., XIV (1897) 723. The author was the son of George Jacob Holyoake, the rationalist and publicist, who has some notes on Dickens in his autobiography, Sixty Years of an Agitator’s Life (1892). For Dickens’s 1864 speech, see Speeches, pp. 333–7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Eliot
  • Others

There are no affiliations available

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