Thursday 23rd August 2018

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I went to visit Holloway Road number 304 as this was the location of Joe Meeks recording studio and the place where he recorded many hits including Telstar and also the place where he died after killing his landlady.

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Dickens and his wife Catherine moved here to 48 Doughty St, London, a few months before Queen Victoria began her reign in 1837. The couple raised the eldest three of their ten children in the house. They also hosted many of the period’s leading figures with dinners and parties.

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Catherine’s 17-year-old sister Mary moved with them from Furnival’s Inn to offer support to her married sister and brother. It was not unusual for a woman’s unwed sister to live with and help a newly married couple.

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Mary Hogarth died suddenly at the Dickens family home aged 17 on 7 May 1837. The cause of death is believed to have been either heart failure or a stroke. She was buried on 13 May at the Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Dickens wrote the epitaph on her tombstone, which says “Young, beautiful, and good, God numbered her among his angels at the early age of seventeen”. The tombstone now includes epitaphs to her brother George, and their parents Georgina, who died in 1863, and George, who died in 1870. The bedroom where Hogarth died is now part of the Charles Dickens Museum.As a result of Hogarth’s death, Charles Dickens missed the publication dates for The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. It was the only time in his life that Dickens missed publication dates. As a reason for missing the publication dates, he wrote that “he had lost a very dear young relative to whom he was most affectionately attached, and whose society has been, for a long time, the chief solace of his labours”. He wore Hogarth’s ring for the rest of his life.

She inspired characters in many of his books, and her death is fictionalized as the death of Little Nell. Dickens had a three-year lease (at £80 a year) on the property. He would remain here until 1839 after which he moved on to grander homes as his wealth increased and his family grew. However, this is his only surviving London house.

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I read this on line interesting but not sure if its true?

When Charles Dickens & Edgar Allan Poe Met, and Dickens’ Pet Raven Inspired Poe’s Poem “The Raven”
“There comes Poe with his raven,” wrote the poet James Russell Lowell in 1848, “like Barnaby Rudge, / Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge.” Barnaby Rudge, as you may know, is a novel by Charles Dickens, published serially in 1841. Set during the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780, the book stands as Dickens’ first historical novel and a prelude of sorts to A Tale of Two Cities. But what, you may wonder, does it have to do with Poe and “his raven”?

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Quite a lot, it turns out. Poe reviewed the first four chapters of Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge for Graham’s Magazine, predicting the end of the novel and finding out later he was correct when he reviewed it again upon completion. He was particularly taken with one character: a chatty raven named Grip who accompanies the simple-minded Barnaby. Poe described the bird as “intensely amusing,” points out Atlas Obscura, and also wrote that Grip’s “croaking might have been prophetically heard in the course of the drama.”

It chanced the following year the two literary greats would meet, when Poe learned of Dickens’ trip to the U.S.; he wrote to the novelist, and the two briefly exchanged letters (which you can read here). Along with Dickens on his six-month journey were his wife Catherine, his children, and Grip, his pet raven. When the two writers met in person, writes Lucinda Hawksley at the BBC, Poe “was enchanted to discover [Grip, the character] was based on Dickens’s own bird.”

Indeed Dickens’ raven, “who had an impressive vocabulary,” inspired what Dickens called the “very queer character” in Barnaby Rudge, not only with his loquaciousness, but also with his distinctively ornery personality. Dickens’ daughter Mamie described the raven as “mischievous and impudent” for its habit of biting the children and “dominating” the family’s mastiff, such that the bird was banished to the carriage house.

But Dickens—who Jonathan Lethem calls the “greatest animal novelist of all time”—loved the bird, so much that he wrote movingly and humorously of Grip’s death, and had him stuffed. (A not unusual practice for Dickens; we’ve previously featured a letter opener Dickens had made from the paw of his cat, Bob.) The remains of the historical Grip now reside in the rare book section of the Free Library of Philadelphia, “a stuffed raven” writes The Washington Post’s Raymond Lane, “about the size of a big cat.”

Of the literary Grip’s influence on Poe, Janine Pollack, head of the library’s rare books department, tells Philadelphia magazine, “It is sort of a unique moment in literature when these two great writers are sort of thinking about the same thing. You think about how much the two men were looking at each other’s work. It’s almost a collaboration without them realizing it.” But can we be sure that Dickens’ Grip, real and imagined, directly inspired Poe’s “The Raven”? “Poe knew about it,” says historian Edward Pettit, “He wrote about it. And there’s a talking raven in it. So the link seems fairly obvious to me.”

Lane adduces some clear evidence of passages in the the novel that sound very much like Poe: “At the end of the fifth chapter,” for example, “Grip makes a noise and someone asks, ‘What was that—him tapping at the door?’ Another character responds, ‘’Tis someone knocking softly at the shutter.’” Hawksley notes even more similarities. “Although there is no concrete proof,” she writes, “most Poe scholars are in agreement that the poet’s fascination with Grip was the inspiration for his 1845 poem The Raven.”

Where we often find surprising lineages of influence from author to author, it’s unusual that the connections are so direct, so personal, and so odd, as those between Poe, Dickens, and Grip the talking raven. I’m especially struck by an irony in this story: Poe courted Dickens in 1842 “to impress the novelist,” writes Sidney Moss of Southern Illinois University, “with his worth and versatility as a critic, poet, and writer of tales,” and with the aim of establishing a literary reputation, and publishing contracts, in England.

While Dickens seemed duly impressed, and willing to help, nothing commercial came of their exchange. Instead, Dickens and his raven inspired Poe to write the most famous poem of his life, “The Raven,” for which he will be remembered forevermore.

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The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

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