Charles Dickens’ Burial/Kamau Death – Poetry News Roundup February 6th

Today in our poetry news round-up we take a look at the truth behind the funeral of Charles Dickens and the death of Kamau.

Interesting New Documents Reveal the Truth About the Death and Burial of Charles Dickens

When John Forster wrote his authorised biography “The Life of Charles Dickens” he was careful as a close friend of the author and poet to omit certain details about his private life; facts that only came to light in the 20th century. Dickens was a very private man and despite being separated from his wife and living with his young mistress he went to great lengths to protect her and Forster did the same. Now there is new evidence that has come to light that throws a very different light on Dickens death and his burial.

Dickens death was sudden, however, he had already indicated where he would like to be buried. He wanted to be buried with as little ceremony and crowds as possible in the churchyard near his home. He left instruction to this effect on his will, he also wanted to ensure that the people who attended his funeral should not wear black, a practise he disliked.

However not only because of his writing but also the many causes that he championed Dickens was very well known, not only in the UK but also in America. His friends were not just other writers but also high-ranking politicians.

It has widely been accepted that the burial of Dickens in Westminster Abbey, alongside literary greats like Samuel Johnson and Geoffrey Chaucer, was to appease the will of the people for whom he was such a popular and important figure however this new evidence suggests that this is not the case.

A complicated series of communications between Forster and the Dean of Westminster suggest that the two men manipulated the situation for their own advantage; the Dean so that he might have presided over the funeral of one of the literary greats and Forster so that Dickens last resting place would be very public and therefore keep interest in the great man alive. At the time it was suggested that the local churchyards were not available to take further burials however there is evidence to suggest this was a lie.

The communications went to the highest levels and the burial which had been planned for Dickens at Rochester Cathedral, a grave had been dug and everything paid for, was cancelled in favour of internment in Westminster Abbey.

Kamau, Barbadian Poet Dies

Edward Kamau Braithwaite, the internationally acclaimed Barbadian poet, has passed away at the age of 89.

Born in Bridgetown in 1930 he was christened Lawson Edward Braithwaite but later adopted the name Kamau which had Kenyan origins. He was more commonly known by this name as his career progressed.

He is best known for his writing, which exalted the English that is spoken in the Caribbean, together with the African rhythms that it contains.

In 1994 he won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, beating the likes of Seamus Heaney, Svetlana Alexievich and Toni Morrison to take the award. He was also the recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship amongst other awards.

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