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macdougall 2016-02-02 | Montreal Dickens Fellowship

Montreal Dickens Fellowship
for the best of times

Charles Dickens was as much a performer as a writer; in fact towards the end of his life he made much more money from his “readings” in England and the US than he did from his writing. For these readings he chose extracts from his books (or stories he had written) to which his audience would strongly react emotionally, and adapted them for performance. This is a re-creation of such a Dickensian performance.
The reading Boots at the Holly Tree Inn was taken from The Holly Tree Inn, the Household Words Christmas number for 1855. Household Words was a weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens throughout the 1850s. In 1859 it ceased publication due to his dispute with the publishers.

A “Boots” was a low-ranking male servant who looked after the boots and shoes.
Cobbs (Boots) tells a traveller staying at the Holly Tree Inn the story of two child lovers, Harry Walmers and Norah, whom he had known in a previous employment, who elope from York and stop at the inn on their way to Gretna Green to be married.

Some terms explained:
Gretna Green – a village just over the border in Scotland where English couples whose parents had forbidden their marriage could elope to and get married (the relevant laws did not apply in Scotland).
My Name is Norval – from the play Douglas by John Home (1722-1808)
The Young May Moon – a song by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
When He Who Adores Thee – ditto
Great Bed of Ware – a huge bed built in 1580 for the White Hart Inn in Ware – it could sleep over fifteen people at a time
Biffin – a variety of red cooking apple

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