The Nation's Memory: Westminster Abbey on Charles Dickens's death and burial. Westminster Abbey Website, 9 June 2020

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

When Charles Dickens died at his home in Kent on 9th June 1870, it was presumed that he would be buried in Rochester Cathedral or in one of the nearby parish churches at Cobham or Shorne. This, after all, was what the author of some of the greatest novels in the English language had wanted.

 

Public opinion, though, led by The Times newspaper, demanded that Westminster Abbey was the only place for the burial of a writer of his distinction. A few days after his death, the newspaper published a leader calling for Dickens to be buried at ‘the peculiar resting place of English literary genius’, adding that ‘very few are more worthy than Charles Dickens of such a home’.

 

Dickens’ friend and biographer, John Forster, seems to have been equally determined. Research published in 2020 suggests that Forster told the family that Dickens’ preferred churchyards were closed for new burials despite there being no evidence of this having been the case. Instead, Forster took up The Times’ cause and approached the Dean of Westminster, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, who readily agreed to burial in the Abbey, and the funeral was held on 14th June.

 

Period08 Jun 2020

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitleThe Nation's Memory: Westminster Abbey on Dickens's death and burial
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media typeWeb
    CountryUnited Kingdom
    Date08/06/2020
    DescriptionWhen Charles Dickens died at his home in Kent on 9th June 1870, it was presumed that he would be buried in Rochester Cathedral or in one of the nearby parish churches at Cobham or Shorne. This, after all, was what the author of some of the greatest novels in the English language had wanted.

    Public opinion, though, led by The Times newspaper, demanded that Westminster Abbey was the only place for the burial of a writer of his distinction. A few days after his death, the newspaper published a leader calling for Dickens to be buried at ‘the peculiar resting place of English literary genius’, adding that ‘very few are more worthy than Charles Dickens of such a home’.

    Dickens’ friend and biographer, John Forster, seems to have been equally determined. Research published in 2020 suggests that Forster told the family that Dickens’ preferred churchyards were closed for new burials despite there being no evidence of this having been the case. Instead, Forster took up The Times’ cause and approached the Dean of Westminster, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, who readily agreed to burial in the Abbey, and the funeral was held on 14th June.

    URLhttps://www.westminster-abbey.org/about-the-abbey/history/the-nations-memory
    PersonsLeon Litvack

Keywords

  • Dickens, Charles
  • death
  • burial
  • commemoration
  • Westminster Abbey