LETTER: No evidence Dickens visited

Regarding the article by David Arnold [Herald, December 18], there are several points that I should like to take issue with.

1. The most important point that I would like to make is that there is NO evidence that Dickens ever came to Eastbourne. There has been extensive research on this issue by the University of Buckingham. The diaries, journals and thousands of letters, to and from Dickens, are now readily available online so it is a fairly easy matter to check on his life and times. The plaque on the wall of the house near The Lamb Inn is a total fabrication and the gross grammatical error an insult to the memory of Dickens. This plaque should be removed at once for the fable that it is.

2. Yes, Dickens did visit Brighton very many times and these visits are widely chronicled but he was NEVER ensconced in the town writing any of his novels. Bleak House, mentioned in the article, was serialised in weekly parts over several months in 1852 and Barnaby Rudge was published in more than 80 instalments commencing in 1841.

3. Yes, Dickens has long been revered in Sussex, indeed there has been a thriving branch of The Dickens Fellowship in Eastbourne since 1919. The annual world conference has been held in Eastbourne no fewer than seven times since it began in 1902. This is more than any other branch worldwide. Sometime in the 1920s or 1930s a Dickens Hall was built and was used by the branch until several years after the Second World War when it was demolished to make way for a block of flats.

If any of your readers are interested in joining with the members of the Eastbourne branch of the Fellowship we meet on the second Monday of each month. I would like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that from January we have a new venue – it is the Italian restaurant Pomodoro e Mozzarella near the War Memorial in the town centre.

Old and new members are welcome to the next meeting which will be a film of our book of the year – Our Mutual Friend.

Maggie de Vos

Eastbourne branch of the Dickens Fellowship,

Wellington Quay

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