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Dickens and Parliament

What can we learn from Dickens' experiences as a Parliamentary reporter? And how did this impact his later writing?

This year marked the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, heralded one of the greatest novelists in British history. We know him for classics such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and a Tale of Two Cities, but what we don't know is where he began his writing career. Before his prodigious literary exploits, Dickens toiled in the gallery of the House of Commons as a Parliamentary reporter for the Morning Chronicle, recording in earnest each detail of the day's business. But what can we learn from Dickens' experiences in what was then a cold, damp and somewhat bleak house in which to work? How may this less glamorous career have influenced his later works? And what did he think of Parliament and the Parliamentary process?

As part of this year’s Parliament Week, the Hansard Society is a holding a public event at Westminster to explore Dickens’ time in Parliament:


  • Professor John Drew - Professor of English, University of Buckingham & author of Dickens the Journalist
  • Lucinda Hawksley - Dickens’ great great great granddaughter & author of Charles Dickens
  • Dr Caroline Shenton - Director of the Parliamentary Archives & author of The Day Parliament Burned Down
  • Andrew Sparrow - Senior Political Correspondent, Guardian & author of Obscure Scribblers: A History of Parliamentary Reporting


  • Robert Rogers - Clerk of the House and Chief Executive, House of Commons & author of two parliamentary miscellanies - Order! Order! and Who Goes Home?


  • Carolyn Quinn - Presenter, BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour & immediate past chair of the Press Gallery


Professor John Drew | talks
Lucinda Hawksley | talks | www
Dr Caroline Shenton | talks | www
Andrew Sparrow | talks | www
Robert Rogers | talks | www
Carolyn Quinn | talks | www


Date and Time:

21 November 2012 at 6:30 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Portcullis House
Opposite Palace of Westminster

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Organised by:

Hansard Society
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