The Dickens Marley Connection – 180 years on
A meeting took place between descendants of (the possible inspiration for) Jacob Marley and his creator, Charles Dickens on 17th March 2023 to commemorate a historical meeting which took place 180 years ago at 11 Cork Street, London W1S 3LT.
Historical background: It was reported in the Dickensian (1938) that one Miss M Lloyd had written to the Daily Telegraph in March, about a meeting in 1843 between her grandfather, Dr. Miles Marley (1798-1854), of Cork Street, London and Charles Dickens. This happened on St Patricks day (March 17), at a dinner party hosted by Dr Marley, himself an Irishman. On that occasion Dickens assured Dr Marley that his name would become famous before the end of the year and true to his promise, A Christmas Carol was published that December and Marley became a household name. Though no mention of this meeting has been found to date in the correspondence of Dickens, that resource is necessarily incomplete.
Fast forward to the 21st century: On the basis of the 1938 report, an indefatigable Cornishman called Barry West (a keen member of the Fellowship) managed to trace Christopher Marley. a great, great grandson of Dr Miles Marley. He arranged for him to come to London on 17 March 2023 for a meeting with descendants of Dickens. Lucinda Hawksley (great, great, great granddaughter) and Mark Dickens (great, great grandson) of Charles Dickens agreed to attend. The venue, 11 Cork Street, is now an art gallery whose owners kindly agreed to host the symbolic reunion.
The meeting took place at 1pm as planned. The attendees also included the organiser Barry West, Steve Martin (Secretary of the Rochester & Chatham branch of the Fellowship), Paul Graham (Honorary General Secretary of the Fellowship) and a few other Fellowship members. We should also mention Jessica Toale, Westminster Councillor with a remit for Culture and the Arts, and Sharon Parker, a friend of Chistopher’s and an expert in the art of making Smoking Bishop, of which more later.
The meeting proved very interesting, with observations from Barry about his quest for Dr. Marley's descendants, from Christopher Marley about his experiences as Marley's great great grandson and from Mark and Lucinda on Dickens, Marley (Miles and Jacob!) and A Christmas Carol. The afternoon concluded with a jug of Smoking Bishop, kindly supplied by Sharon Parker and greatly enjoyed by the assembled company. Barry made a parting speech, proposing a toast to Charles Dickens, his work for the poor and his literary genius.
Mark Dickens and Christopher Marley Lucinda Hawksley and Christopher Marley
Period Costume Cork Street Smoking Bishop and the toast
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