Children’s Christmas Lecture 2012
Mystery and monsters: exploring the power of Charles Dickens’ creative writing.
Dr Neil Cocks from the department of English Language and Literature will give the popular University of Reading Children’s Lecture this year.
In this interactive session, Dr Cocks will use drawing, descriptive writing and dressing up to discover one of the mysteries in Dickens’ Edwin Drood.
Neil says about this lecture:
I am really looking forward to this. Part of my research this year has been on The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. It is a famously mysterious text, a murder mystery that Dickens died without completing. We will never really know ‘who done it’. I am interested in other mysterious aspects of this work, however, and have recently published an essay concerning one especially elusive character (Cocks, N.  The child and imperial return : the mystery of Edwin Drood. Parallax. pp. 1-15). Explaining this research in a way that is entertaining and exiting for children is a challenge. I have decided on creative writing as the focus for the lecture, as an active engagement with poetry and the imagination is a great way of making the nature of the mystery a little clearer. This also ties in with my own emerging interest in creative writing in relation to Edwin Drood. This year I have also published a short story rewriting one chapter of it . Entitled ‘The Sun Dial’ (in  Book, Ashby: Inkermen) this has met with some favourable reviews (“skilful character portrayal in a short space […] observations that stay with you forever […] Can you tell that I think this story is little short of a masterpiece?” D.F. Lewis).
My hope for this lecture is that those attending will understand a little more about writing, Dickens and the social history of the C19th, whilst I will learn more about creative writing, and the necessity of framing my research in a way appropriate for specific audiences.