This is a cross-post from the Lowell Historical Society blog. The Society is participating in the local celebration of Dickens’ 200th birthday and his 1842 visit tio Lowell in partnership with UMass Lowell, the Lowell National Historical Park and others. There will be a panel discussion on Dickens at the Society’s Annual Meeting in late May. Details later.
THAT DICKENS IN AMERICA – NOT ALL WENT WELL – BUT HE LIKED LOWELL
Lowell Historical Society VP Gray Fitzsimons passed along this interesting take on Charles Dickens’ 1842 American Tour from the BBC Magazine. The side bar further confirms his time in Lowell, Massachusetts (although Lowell is mispelled). Here’s the side bar followed by an exerpt and a link to the full article. What do you think? From other accounts, he DID like Lowell
Highlights of Charles Dickens’s 1842 itinerary
- January 22: Arrived Boston
- February 2: Visited mills at Lowel, Massachusetts
- February 13: Arrived New York by boat
- February 14: Ball at Park Theatre
- March 2: Visited Tombs Prison and Public Department
- March 6: Arrived Philadelphia
- March 10: Visited Capitol and White House
- March 13: Dinner at the White House
- March 29: Arrived Pittsburgh
- April 4: Arrived Cincinnati
- April 10: Arrived St Louis
- April 26- May 3: Niagara Falls
- May 4- 29: Visited Canada
- June 7: Left New York for England
From the article:
On his first visit to America in 1842, English novelist Charles Dickens was greeted like a modern rock star. But the trip soon turned sour, as Simon Watts reports.
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…
But a visit which had started so well quickly turned into a bitter dispute, known as the “Quarrel with America”…
As a committed social reformer, Dickens wanted to use his trip to find out if American democracy was an improvement on class-ridden Victorian England.
The novelist particularly enjoyed Boston, his first port of call…
The tone of the visit changed when the crowds and individuals he met as the tour continued became – as he perceived rude, discourteous, undisciplined - and as Dickens scholar Professor Jerome Meckier notes: “The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough. He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive and above all acquisitive.”
Check out the full article here at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17017791
The Business of Valentine Cards: From Howland to Hallmark
MassMoments tells us this morning that in 1849 – the first American-made Valentine cards were created and sold in Worcester, Massachusetts by Mt. Holyoke graduate Esther Howland. Modeled on the English-style Valentine, her fancy designs, embossed, cut and colored paper along with romantic sentiments and hidden messages soon grew into a thriving business. Miss Howland hired women as assemblers, advertised her product and finally moved beyond a home-based business into a downtown location. Because of Esther Howland and her entreprenurial skill – Worcester was the “Valentine Capital of America” well into the 20th century.
…in 1849, the first American-made valentines were sold in Worcester. They were designed and made by Esther Howland, the daughter of a local stationer. After graduating from Mt. Holyoke College, she returned to Worcester and began making valentines modeled on a fancy one she had received from an English friend. Her brother took the samples on a sales trip and came home with an astonishing $5,000 worth of orders. Howland began by hiring her friends to assemble the valentines; within a few years, she built her business into a $100,000 a year enterprise, a notable success for any entrepreneur but a truly remarkable accomplishment for a nineteenth-century woman.
Read the full MassMoments article here.
This valentine card was created by Esther Howland – the “Mother of of the American Valentine.”
In 2011 – Hallmark cards created over 1600 different Valentine card designs. Approximately 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged industry-wide (not including packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchanges), making Valentine’s Day the second-largest holiday for giving greeting cards.
Over the weekend I finally saw the movie Moneyball which was based on the Michael Lewis book by the same title that is one of my all-time favorites, not because it’s a literary classic – although Lewis is an excellent and funny writer – but because it documents how statistics and the use of quantitative evidence changed the game of baseball. Both the book and the movie tell the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who because of the team’s very low payroll, relied on an economics major with a computer to select players rather than the established baseball scouts. Like most people whose jobs are threatened by a new way of doing things, the scouts did not take the change well.
The book was written in 2003 and covers the 2002 baseball season. The movie does an excellent job of capturing the book and its ideas and contains some very funny and some very thoughtful scenes some of which are in the official movie trailer below. Moneyball is about baseball, but as a major story in Sunday’s New York Times (Big Data’s Impact in the World) makes clear, the use of data and quantitative evidence portrayed in the book have revolutionized the way we live our lives today whether we realize it or not.