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Could self-isolation find the Charles Dickens in you?

Could self-isolation find the Charles Dickens in you? Authors are asked to write 300-word portraits of modern Dickensian characters

  • Writers asked to write 300-word portraits of modern Dickensian characters
  • Short piece to describe the modern character that drew Dickens’ attention
  • The winning character is brought to life by cartoonist Stanley ‘Mac’ McMurtry

Charles Dickens was the unparalleled chronicler of the Victorian era – so what could he have made of our modern age of wisdom and folly?

The Journalists’ Charity, who helped find the writer, ran a contest on the 150th anniversary of his death to discover just that.

Budding writers are urged to take advantage of the ending to unleash their inner Dickens and write a 300-word portrait of a 21st-century character who could have sparked his imagination where he now lived.

These short pieces – written with Dickens’ descriptive flamboyance – should describe characters who can hold their own alongside Ebenezer Scrooge, Miss Havisham and Oliver Twist.

The contest, open to entries through June 9, will be judged by a panel featuring Dickens’s great-great-grandson and representatives of the Dickens Fellowship.

The Journalists' Charity - with the support of the Dickens Fellowship - has asked writers to paint and portray a 21st century character they think could have become a Dickensian classic (Image: Charles Dickens)

The Journalists’ Charity – with the support of the Dickens Fellowship – has asked writers to paint and portray a 21st century character they think could have become a Dickensian classic (Image: Charles Dickens)

The winning character comes to life in a unique illustration by Fleet Street cartoonist Stanley ‘Mac’ McMurtry.

“This is such a great competition, full of rich potential and contemporary relevance,” said Ian Dickens, President of the Dickens Fellowship.

The joy of Dickens is the range of characters that appear on every page. Taken from acute observation of those he knew and those he happened to encounter, they bond with the reader because we all recognize elements in it.

“And such rich pickings continue to place themselves firmly in front of us every day as we make the effort to stop, listen and introduce ourselves. I can’t wait to meet them. ‘

The contest, open to entries through June 9, will be judged by a panel featuring Dickens's great-great-grandson and representatives of the Dickens Fellowship

The competition, open to entries through June 9, will be judged by a panel featuring Dickens's great-great-grandson and representatives of the Dickens Fellowship

The contest, open to entries through June 9, will be judged by a panel featuring Dickens’s great-great-grandson and representatives of the Dickens Fellowship

These 300-word pieces should describe characters that can stand next to Ebenezer Scrooge (photo: Alastair Sim), Miss Havisham and Oliver Twist

These 300-word pieces should describe characters that can hold their own alongside Ebenezer Scrooge (Photo: Alastair Sim), Miss Havisham and Oliver Twist

These 300-word pieces should describe characters that can stand next to Ebenezer Scrooge (photo: Alastair Sim), Miss Havisham and Oliver Twist

Ramsay Smith, president of the Charity Journalists, added, “Our charity is delighted to launch this competition with the support of the Dickens Fellowship.

As a charity pioneer, Charles Dickens embodied a remarkable charity that has remained our core for over 150 years.

“Journalists around the world are doing a great job of reporting the Coronavirus pandemic, but the reality is that many, especially freelance journalists, are going through an extremely challenging time.

“This competition offers a great opportunity for people – both journalists and non-journalists – to put their creative skills to work in these strange times. We hope that everyone dear to Dickens’ works will participate. ‘

In the photo: Helena Bonham Carter in Great Expectations

In the photo: Helena Bonham Carter in Great Expectations

Pictured: Jeremy Irvine in Great Expectations

Pictured: Jeremy Irvine in Great Expectations

Pictured: Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham (left) and Jeremy Irvine as Pip (right) in Great Expectations

Pictured: Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger (left) and Ron Moody as Fagin (right) in Oliver!

Pictured: Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger (left) and Ron Moody as Fagin (right) in Oliver!

Pictured: Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger (left) and Ron Moody as Fagin (right) in Oliver!

Board members of the Journalists’ Charity will form the jury along with Mr. Dickens, Professor Malcolm Andrews, editor of The Dickensian, and Professor Jenny Hartley, editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens.

The competition is open to everyone and is free to participate, although participants are encouraged to make a donation to The Journalists’ Charity.

The proceeds of the competition go to journalists who are struggling because of the pandemic of the corona virus.

Entries must be received by email or post on June 9, 2020, the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s death.

Entries can be sent to [email protected] or by mail to Dickens House, 35 Wathen Road, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1JY.

Full details and rules can be found at www.journalistscharity.org.uk/dickens.

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