If you’re one of those people who take fiction for fact, you can go visit Scrooge’s grave in the Netherlands this weekend. Charles Dickens’ embodiment of miserliness and misanthropy, the protagonist of one of the defining tales of the Christmas season, will be resting in peace in a special cemetery near Deventer’s Berg church, but only until Sunday night.
Don’t say ‘Bah, humbug!’ yet, because this is not a tall story. It’s all part of the 18th Dickens Festival in Deventer, where Dickens’ 19th-century London is revived in all its glory and grime in the historical Berg quarter. It goes beyond A Christmas Carol, because you won’t just bump into Ebenezer Scrooge or Marley’s ghost if you go there. The place will be crawling with chimney sweepers, street peddlers and all-Victorian riff raff. David Copperfield will also be there, Uriah Heep will be his own goofy self and even Queen Victoria herself will put in an appearance.
And there’s more: not only will people dress up in grand Dickensian fashion, there will also be Christmas carol-singing, punch-drinking and chestnut-roasting. On top of that there is the annual Dickens exhibition, organised for the first time in collaboration with the London Charles Dickens Museum (not to be confused, by the way, with the Dickens Museum in Bronkhorst, The Netherlands, which even has an 'Old Curiosity Shop' with all kinds of Dickensian gadgets). This special exhibition opens tonight, and will have many unique stuff on display, such as: a first edition of A Christmas Carol, a page from the Nicholas Nickleby manuscript, and the writer’s personal cigar box (with cutter!). And as Queen Victoria will be in town anyway, the Dickens Museum also threw in the Sparkler of Albion’s – as Dickens loved to refer to himself, one William Shakespeare being the Bard of Avon – suit which he wore when he met the Queen for the first time.A Dickensian drag queen in Deventer, 2007