THE Dickens Gift team has always been careful about making grand claims of Dickens’s link to Malton.
What we have emphasised throughout the project is that there are three generations of oral history linking Dickens to the town, a verbal recounting from Ian Wray, the great-greatgreat- nephew of Charles Smithson, whose recollection of what Dickens told his own family is as compelling as any documentary evidence.
Are we to brush his testimony aside as if it were of absolutely no consequence? Particularly as there is a welter of documentation to substantiate his family’s story.
We know, for example, Charles Dickens visited the town. He stayed at Easthorpe, he performed on the stage of the old Theatre Royal with his friend Smithson and Dickens’ brother Albert (who lived in Greengate) and he attended Smithson’s funeral.
The book, A Christmas Carol, is a symbol of philanthropy and will be used to not only raise funds for local good causes, but also help economic regeneration and tourism.
We will be looking to the town to help us put on a magnificent Dickensian Christmas festival this year.
We will be engaging with local schools, stimulating youngsters to learn and volunteer. We will work closely with York University on creating a Dickens Yorkshire Heritage Trail.
There is more information, provenance about the book and its history on the www.dickensgifttoyorkshire.com website.
Please also see the fine Dickensian actor, Simon Callow’s comments about Malton securing the purchase of the book at www.itn.co.uk/UK/63734/callow-praises-efforts-tosecure-rare-charles-dickensbook.
At the start of this new year we will be looking forward to working with the Charles Dickens Society and Malton’s citizens on a project that can only boost footfall to local businesses and The Counting House, as well as inspire future generations of Dickens readers.
Clair Challenor-Chadwick, on behalf of the Dickens Gift to Yorkshire team