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A Review of Lucinda Hawksley’s “Dickens & Travel”

A Review of Lucinda Hawksley’s “Dickens & Travel”

One of the many things I learned in the superb “Charles Dickens & Travel: the Start of Modern Travel Writing” by the prolific and versatile author Lucinda Hawksley, is that “The Sparkler of Albion” was a nickname by which Dickens was known among his friends. His great-great-great granddaughter, Lucinda Hawksley, should henceforth be known as “The London Sparkle” having put a wise, witty and wonderfully detailed sheen not only on her ancestor’s history but on making a solid and page-
turning treatise that her forebear invented modern “travel writing.”

Reading this delightful biography while aboard ship was an especial treat for me as I dove bow first into Dickens’ trips to the United States (ante bellum and post civil war) and how Dickens was the first truly international celebrity to go on tour. Dickens and his tale of two continents paved the way for Jenny Lind in New York and Oscar Wilde in San Francisco.

Dickens’ sojourns in his native United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, France, Switzerland, Canada and a planned but unrealized trip to Australia round out Lucinda’s lucid and fact-filled journey. I loved every page, especially learning many things I should have known but did not. How can anyone write in the English language without knowing Dickens more fully? I’m happy to have been sent back to school by Lucinda.

The apples have fallen close to the Dickens family tree for now close on 200 years. Lucinda, a gifted and crowd pleasing lecturer in addition to being an author and biographer of other subjects, is continuing a liberal, literary legacy: Charles was only the most famous Dickens to write. Lucinda is more than equal to her lineage and a proudly progressive voice upon which the “Sparkler of Albion” would undoubtedly smile.

If you love travel, Dickens, history or just plain fantastic, impeccably well researched eloquent writing this is a book for you, and Lucinda Hawksley an author whose pages you should bookmark and turn.
— David Eugene Perry, author of “Upon This Rock”