News and Events


The Dickens Fellowship

The Dickens Fellowship is an international organisation which has many branches in the UK. and all over the world. The Portsmouth Branch is well-established and thriving in this city, having many connections with Charles Dickens, not least the house in which he was born, which has been a museum open to the public for over one hundred years.

If you are interested in the novels and other works of the author, and would like to find out more about his fascinating background and life, there is no better way than joining your local branch of the Fellowship.

Mission Statement

To knit together in a common bond of friendship all lovers of Charles Dickens's writings, and to spread the love of humanity, which is the keynote of all his works.

Portsmouth – the Birth Town of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born on 7 February, 1812 in a small terraced house, number 1 Mile End Terrace, Landport, and lived there for the first four months of his life, before the family moved on to 16 Hawke Street, Portsea. When the house came up for sale in 1903 Portsmouth Corporation bought it, and opened it on 22 July 1904 as a museum dedicated to the great author. It was administered in the earlier years by the Libraries & Museums Committee. In 1967 the Birthplace needed to be renovated, and its large collection of Dickens-related books, largely supplied by its first curator, Mr Alfred Seale, was transferred to the Central Library, which at that time was the one behind the Guildhall, and which is now Park Building, owned by the University.

What does the Portsmouth Branch do?

We hold regular meetings on the second Tuesday of each month, with the exception of February, July and August. These are held mainly in St. Swithun's Church Hall, Waverley Road, Southsea, and run from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. The meetings are well-organised, and sometimes include talks, which are usually on a Dickens-related theme. We also have regular discussion and/or readings concerning our book of the year.

What else do we have to offer?

In addition to the meetings we run a number of other events, including:-

  • An Annual Birthday Lecture at John Pound's Church, High Street, Old Portsmouth, on the Saturday before 7 February (Charles Dickens's birthday).
  • A wreath-laying ceremony at the Birthplace Museum on the 7 February in celebration of the birth of Charles Dickens, followed by the placing of a garland around the neck of the Charles Dickens statue in Guildhall Square at approximately 12.00pm.
  • A Birthday Lunch on the first Tuesday in February.
  • A church service at St. Alban's Church on a Sunday, when it falls on the 4 March, to celebrate the Baptism of Charles Dickens.
  • An annual outing by coach during the month of May or June.
  • An Evensong Service in St. Mary's Church, followed by refreshments and readings from the works of Dickens in the church hall to commemorate the death of Charles Dickens. This takes place on the Sunday nearest to 9 June.
  • Film shows at the University Library, University of Portsmouth, Cambridge Road, mostly the films of Dickens's novels.

Forthcoming meetings and events: 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Background and introduction to Nicholas Nickleby by Professor Tony Pointon.

Saturday, 3 February 2018
The 20th annual birthday lecture (Sponsored by Portsmouth Grammar School and University Branch of the Fellowship).
A Stage Reading by Gerald Dickens of a work in progress based on Dickens’s “The Life of Our Lord”.
The Grammar School Theatre, High Street, Old Portsmouth.
Starts at 7.30 p.m.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018
The birthday lunch.
Celebrated by both Portsmouth Branches of the Fellowship. There will be a toast to ‘The Immortal Memory’ by Derwin Hope with a response on behalf of the City by Cllr Ken Ellcome, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.
To be held in St. Swithun’s Church Hall, Waverley Road, Southsea.
Arrive at 12.30pm for a 1.00pm start.
Tickets at £8 per person to be ordered in advance from Margaret Durrant – 023 9286 4626.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Celebration of the birth of Charles Dickens in partnership with the City Museums Service.
Arrive at 10.30am for a 11.00 am start.
Traditional placing of the wreath at the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum by our President, the Lord Mayor. This will be followed by the placing of a garland around the neck of the Dickens Statue in Guildhall Square.

Sunday, 4 March 2018
Commemoration of the baptism of Charles Dickens.
A service in St. Alban’s Church, Copnor Road at 10.30am. There will also be readings at the font.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018
A talk by Dr. Tony Williams titled ‘But it was London’: Nickleby and the Metropolis.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018
A talk by Thelma Grove titled 'Charles Dickens and the Poor Man’s Child'.
Presentations/Discussion of Nicholas Nickleby.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Presentations/Discussion of Nicholas Nickleby.

Early June
There will be a summer annual outing.

Sunday, 10 June 2018
Commemoration of the death of Charles Dickens (09/06/1870).
4.00p.m: Evensong at St. Mary’s Church.
4.30p.m: Readings and refreshments in the church hall.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Bring and Buy of Sale.
Presentations/Discussion Nicholas Nickleby.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Talk: John Pounds of Portsmouth by Geoff and Val Worthington.
Presentations/Readings/Discussion of Nicholas Nickleby.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018
Presentations/Readings/Discussion of Nicholas Nickleby.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Annual General Meeting with Bring and Buy.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018
A Dickens Christmas Occasion.

What does it all cost?

The Branch charges an annual membership fee to members of only £8. This is exceptionally good value for money, and covers all meetings and communication. Certain events, such as the Annual Coach Outing and the Birthday Lunch, carry a separate cost, and members are informed of the ticket prices well in advance.

How do you find out more?

For further details and information, or if you would like to consider joining the Dickens Fellowship, please contact:

Geoffrey Christopher:
Tel: 023 9266 4205

Prof. Tony Pointon:
Tel: 023 9238 2241