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Fire and Snow

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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Travel-writing i
Subjects Great Britain—Description and Travel
Weather; Meteorology; Climate; Seasons
Other Details
Printed : 21/1/1854
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume VIII
Magazine : No. 200
Office Book Notes
Views : 1739

On 27, 29 and 30 December Dickens gave a series of fund-raising public readings of A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth at the Birmingham and Midland Institute.

He had suggested to Wills that he might be able to 'knock out' an article for HW whilst in Birmingham, perhaps 'a Saturday Night in the Truck District [i.e. where the shops were in which workers and their families would be buying good with vouchers received as part of their wages], or a Sunday Morning among the ironworkers (a fine subject)' (Pilgrim, Vol. VII, p. 206). In the event, he used his free day, 28 December, to make a trip by rail to Wolverhampton and makes this the subject of the article. There had been a heavy snow-storm in the area on the 27th.

Literary allusions

  • 'the ghostly dagger of Macbeth': Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 2, Sc. 1;
  • 'the blasted heath': Macbeth, Act 1, Sc. 3;
  • 'like Christian with his bundle': from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678).

Author: Michael Slater; © J. M. Dent/Orion Publishing Group, Dickens' Journalism Volume III: 'Gone Astray' and Other Papers from Household Words, 1851-1859, 1998.

DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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