2012: Charles Dickens

These pages celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, one of the great writers of the English language. You can watch the recorded Dickens event from London on 19 December which features an audience with Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, Charles Dickens great-great-great granddaughter, and a workshop on taking Dickens into the English language classroom.

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    Dickens 2012 is an international celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens to mark the bicentenary of his birth, which falls on 7 February 2012. Although a writer from the Victorian era, Dickens’s work transcends time, language and culture. He remains a massive contemporary influence throughout the world and his writings continue to inspire us today.

    To celebrate Dickens, we have created a whole range of lesson plans and teaching materials and commissioned a brand new series of short documentary films on heroes and villains from Dickens's novels. Click on each of the tabs above to find out more.

    Watch these short films which talk about the life and work of Dickens.

    Little Dorrit: Circumlocution Office

    Has dealing with bureaucracy ever been a simple process? In this lesson students read Dickens' humorous account of officialdom then they prepare and perform mini-plays on the same topic.

    Little Dorrit

    This lesson for high intermediate level students and above illustrates the relevance of Dickens in today's economic climate. It involves vocabulary input followed by reading for gist and reading for detail. Students then do an information gap speaking activity.

    A Christmas Carol

    In this lesson students read an extract from 'A Christmas Carol' and examine the characters in the text. They then discuss the theme of festivals as preparation for a writing task on the same topic.

    David Copperfield and Miss Betsey

    This lesson is for high intermediate level students and above. It involves reading an extract from Dickens' work for gist and then reading for detail. Students then focus on how adverbs are used in the text.

    Great Expectations: Pip and Magwitch

    In this lesson students focus on reading and understanding dialogue in an extract from Great Expectations. There is also a chance for them to bring that dialogue to life through voice and intonation.

    Hard Times: nothing but facts

    In this lesson students take part in a visualisation activity before reading, listening to and discussing passages from Dickens' work. This lesson is also designed to be used by teacher trainers to focus on teaching receptive skills.

    Tale of Two Cities: opening

    In this lesson students listen to an extract from Dickens' work, do a vocabulary matching task, take part in a discussion based on the listening and then focus on intonation.

    Oliver Twist: Fagin’s last night

    In this lesson students read about crime and punishment then discuss their opinions in a debate on the death penalty.



    Bent and broken into a better shape: the magical storytelling of Charles DickensWith Jeremy Harmer and Steve Bingham

    This is a recording of the event held in London on 9 February 2012. You can also download a report of the event by Scott Sherriff.

    Little Nell

    Little Nell is a character from The Old Curiosity Shop

    Uriah Heap

    Uriah Heap is a character from David Copperfield.

    Oliver Twist

    Oliver Twist is the orphan in the novel of the same name - and one of Dickens' most famous creations.


    Bill Sikes was very much a villain, from the novel Oliver Twist.


    Nicholas Nickleby was Dickens' third novel - centred on the life of a young man supporting his family. 


    Ebenezer Scrooge is the main character in A Christmas Carol, and perhaps Dickens' most famous creation.

    Dickens and London

    This Heroes and Villains film explores the relationship between the writer and the city he lived in.

    Miss Havisham

    Miss Havisham was one of the main characters in Great Expectations, and is the first in our series of Heroes and Villains.