Roger Luckhurst of Birkbeck talks to me about the enduring appeal of Dracula and I ask him: “It’s all about sex, isn’t it?”
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s biography of the first three decades of Dickens’ life is published by Harvard University Press next month. It’s a terrifically readable, refreshing look at his life story which rescues Dickens from a sense of inevitability, that the only fate reserved for him was to become the greatest novelist of his day. From the very first page of the book, Robert embraces the counter-factual to jolt us out of our complacency and shows how often Dickens’ life could have branched off in another direction entirely.
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst introduces a Victorian classic, Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, a work of journalism he has called “the greatest Victorian novel never written”. Interviewed in his rooms at Magdalen College, Oxford, he explains why this book is still well worth reading today.
We mark the birthday of Charles Dickens earlier this week with a special extended edition of my interview with his biographer Michael Slater from the end of last year, which originally appeared on Blackwell Online.
John Bowen, reviewing the book in the Times Literary Supplement, said:
“[it] immediately takes its place as the most authoritative, fair-minded and navigable of modern biographies. Slater, the most distinguished of modern Dickens scholars, is a master of detail and a stickler for dates (there are a dozen or so on the first page) and the book gives a vivid sense of the day-to-day, week-by-week bustle and productivity of Dickens’s life, its polymorphous inventiveness, its relentless juggling.”
In this extended version of the interview, you can hear how Michael Slater first became interested in Dickens, what persuaded him to take on the monumental task, and which aspects of Dickens personality and writing have fascinated him most. Click on the link above to listen to the podcast.