Valentine’s Day And Charles Dickens
On Valentine’s Day, 1842, New York hosted one of the grandest events the city had ever seen – a ball in honour of the English novelist Charles Dickens.
Dickens was only 30, but works such as Oliver Twist and the Pickwick Papers had already made him the most famous writer in the world.
The cream of New York society hired the grandest venue in the city – the Park Theatre – and decorated it with wreaths and paintings in honour of the illustrious visitor.
There was even a bust of Dickens hanging from one of the theatre balconies, with an eagle appearing to soar over his head.
Dickens and his wife, Catherine, danced most of the night in the company of around 3,000 guests.
“If I should live to grow old,” the novelist told a dinner the following night, “the scenes of this and other evenings will shine as brightly to my dull eyes 50 years hence as now”.
But a visit which had started so well quickly turned into a bitter dispute, known as the “Quarrel with America”.
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