Coffee Morning – 21st September 2023

What an interesting, humorous morning we had on Thursday 21st September, our guest speaker Mr Trevor Bevan kept the group entertained with his talk, A Dickens of a tale.

Mr Bevan being an avid cyclist for many years was invited to become a member of the Pickwick cycle club, of which not many have the opportunity of an invitation, there are 200 members and each one has a name after a Dickens character, Trevor is known as the red nosed Mr Stiggins. Pickwick bicycle club was formed in 1870 with just six cycle enthusiasts, Charles Dickens had passed away the week before the club was named after the Pickwick papers. The unique club is the only one in the world that combines literature and a sporting connection. The club fund raises for charities raising thousands of pounds at the two functions they hold every year in Covent Gardens. So, not only did Trevor (Mr Stiggins) give us the history of the club but also the connection with Charles Dickens.

Dickens was born in the Regency period in Portsmouth, he was a very intelligent child and became an avid reader. He moved to London with his family into a two up two down house due to his parents financial crisis, and many of his novels were based on his life experiences.

His first job was in a blacking factory just off the Strand, where he lived in loft type lodgings with other workers for six shillings a week, a similarity to Oliver Twist. He started to work for a publication company, he was known to have a photographic memory and Dickens tied in the images of prisons, slums, lamplighters, the poor, child exploitation and life into his books.

He was said to be a difficult person, going from happy with a good sense of humour, to falling into periods of depression. He had two ladies in his life, his wife Katherine who he had 7 sons and 3 daughters with, he went on to divorce his wife to live with an actress for the rest of his life.

All of his books have at some time been best sellers, with the Tale of two Cities selling 200 million copies worldwide. His most popular novel is A Christmas Carol, it took Dickens just six weeks to write this novel and it sold out in five days. Mr Trevor Bevan gave us a good rounded insight into the life of Dickens and was enjoyed by all at the history society.