- ‘If we look at our social and daily life, we shall see how constantly present the press is, and how essential an element it has become of civilised existence‘ is a quotation from a speech by the nineteenth century author and social critic Charles Dickens.
By 1843, 31-year-old Dickens was already a very famous writer, both in Great Britain and across the world, having already achieved great literary success with works including The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby. At the time of the speech, Dickens’ latest novel Martin Chuzzlewit was appearing in monthly instalments.
The event was attended by a number of well known literary figures of the day and friends of Dickens, including the author and poet Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845), the dramatist and writer Douglas Jerrold (1803 – 1857), the writer F. W. N. (Frederic William Naylor) Bailey (1808 – 1853), the Irish writer Robert Bell (1800 – 1867), and the writer and journalist John Forster (1812 – 1876). Forster became of the closest friends and advisers of Charles Dickens during his lifetime and would go on to write the biography The Life of Dickens (published 1872 – 1874) after his death.
Twenty-one years later, Dickens was again invited to preside at the annual dinner of the Printers’ Pension Society which he accepted and gave another speech to the institution.
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