Charles Dickens traveled to North America twice, in 1842 and twenty-five years later in 1867–68, and on both trips Massachusetts was part of his itinerary. Although many aspects of his U.S. travels disappointed him, Massachusetts was the one state that met and even exceeded Dickens’s expectations for “the republic of [his] imagination.” From the mills of Lowell to the Perkins School for the Blind, it offered an alternate vision of America that influenced his future writings, while the deep and lasting friendships he formed with Bostonians gave him enduring ties to the commonwealth.
This volume provides insight from leading scholars who have begun to reassess the significance of Massachusetts in the author’s life and work. The collection begins with a broad biographical and historical overview taken from the full-length narrative of the award-winning exhibition Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation, which attracted thousands of visitors while on display in Lowell. Abundant images from the exhibition, many of them difficult to find elsewhere, enhance the story of Dickens’s relationship with the vibrant cultural and intellectual life of Massachusetts. The second section includes essays that consider the importance of Dickens’s many connections to the commonwealth.
In addition to the volume editors, contributors include Chelsea Bray, Iain Crawford, Andre DeCuir, Natalie McKnight, Lillian Nayder, and Kit Polga.