Charles Dickens, Springfield Armory, and Christmas in the City of Homes
Contact: Richard Colton, (413) 734-8551 x223
SPRINGFIELD, MA: Charles Dickens, one of the most famous novelists of all time, visited Springfield twice in his lifetime. The first was the same year he authored the cherished work, A Christmas Carol. The second was for a performance of his one-man show developed from the same book. The topics of Charles Dickens, Springfield Armory, and Christmas in Springfield, the City of Homes, will be the subject of a presentation by local historian Fran Gagnon, STCC professor Kit Polga, and Park historian Richard Colton. Join us for this fascinating talk on Saturday, December 1st at 1:30pm. Admission is free.
Arriving in 1842, the year he wrote A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens traveled by train to Springfield where local leaders met and introduced him to the Armory's Commandant and Paymaster. The author then toured the Armory's Hill Shops and Water Shops on his birthday. On his later visit in 1868, Dickens toured the United States performing his one-man stage performance of A Christmas Carol with a three-day stop in Springfield. The production received sold-out enthusiastic audiences at each show.
Dickens' association to the Christmas holiday through his timeless work is particularly relevant to Springfield. Christmas observances in the city had not been encouraged during most of the 19th Century. In contrast, Springfield Armory was a place of tolerance for the observation of Christmas during that same period due to large numbers of workers for whom Christmas was an important part of their culture - especially among Irish Catholics.
Springfield and the United States clearly left an impression on Dickens. Before leaving America, Dickens bid farewell stating that "Those relations must now be broken forever. Be assured, however, that you will not pass from my mind. I shall often realize you as I see you now…a host of personal friends, and ever with the greatest gratitude, tenderness, and consideration. Ladies and gentlemen, I beg to bid you farewell. God bless you, and God bless the land in which I leave you." Please join us in commemorating these fascinating times and people.
Springfield Armory National Historic Site commemorates and preserves the site of our Nation's first armory, established in 1794. The site is open daily, 9am-5pm. Admission is free. For information call 413-734-8551 or check www.nps.gov/spar.
Did You Know?
Author Charles Dickens toured Springfield Armory’s Hill Shops and Water Shops on his 30th birthday, February 7th, 1842, a year before publication of A Christmas Carol. The first of two visits to America, he and his wife were accompanied by the superintendent and the paymaster. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.