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Richard Daley

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"Politicians don't bring people together. Artists do."

Richard Daley

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Bound to Amuse

Charles Dickens

When Charles Dickens moved into Tavistock House, he made sure that every detail of it was to his taste. One of the features he installed was a hidden door to his study, made to look like part of an unbroken wall of books, complete with dummy shelves and fictitious titles.

Dickens clearly derived much amusement from the invention of titles for these volumes. They ranged from the purely facetious—Five Minutes In China, three volumes, and Heaviside's Conversations With Nobody— to straight puns such as A Carpenter's Bench of Bishops and The Gunpowder Magazine.

These stood alongside more satirical titles such as The Quarrelly Review and Hansard's Guide to Refreshing Sleep in "as many volumes as possible." Further additions in later years included Strutt's Walk, Noah's Arkitecture, Shelley's Oysters, Cat's Lives (nine volumes), History of a Short Chancery Case (twenty-one volumes), and The Wisdom of Our Ancestors, which consisted of volumes on ignorance, superstition, the block, the stake, the rack, dirt, and disease. The companion, Virtues of Our Ancestors was so narrow the title had to be printed sideways.

From The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, Clifton Fadiman, general editor.

Excerpt from Dickens on Kingston

Dickens on Kingston

Charles Dickens visited Kingston in 1842. He wasn't impressed, partly because his visit came not too long after a waterfront explosion touched off a fire that burned much of the downtown area. Dickens said of Kingston that “one half of it appears to be burnt down, and the other half not to be built up.”




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