< Back to front page Text size +

Dickens had a Swiss chalet?

Posted by Christopher Shea  March 31, 2010 04:19 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Charles Dickens's Swiss chalet has fallen into disrepair, and local (English) officials are looking for some $150,000 in donations to fix it. The house was a gift from the actor and theater manager Charles Fechter in 1864 and it arrived at Dickens's country house--near Rochester, in Southeastern England--in 94 pieces. Dickens erected the almost cartoonishly Swiss structure (highly ornamented roofline, wraparound second-story porch) across the street from his main house, and it became his favorite place to write. As true Dickens aficionados know, the author wrote his last lines there, Chapter 23 of the never-finished "Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Dickens installed five mirrors in his second-floor writing room, as Michael Slater, a Dickens biographer, noted recently on the blog of Yale University Press, and he told his American publisher that "they reflect and refract, in all kinds of ways, the leaves that are quivering at the windows, and the great fields of waving corn, and the sail-dotted river ...."

The house was posthumously disassembled and relocated to the grounds of the Eastgate Museum, near Dickens's childhood home, but its stewards have had a hard time maintaining it, and it is now closed to the public. If local officials and the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship can raise the necessary money, they plan to turn it into a cultural center with a writer in residence, working on the second floor.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category