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Charles Dickens' fan pens story to mark 150 years of Kent author's death

Prolific novelist Charles Dickens penned thousands of words in his illustrious writing career.

But Jed Sheerin, a fan of the great author, has managed to cram 15 of his main book titles into a 150-word story to commemorate the anniversary of the Rochester author's death.

Dickens fan Jed Sheerin of High Halstow. Picture: Chris Davey
Dickens fan Jed Sheerin of High Halstow. Picture: Chris Davey

Jed, 66, from High Halstow, has been reading his works for the last 30 years and admits on his retirement he and wife Judith moved to the Hoo Peninsula because it was where Dickens gained inspiration.

It was the children's graves at St James' Church at Cooling that prompted Dickens to write Great Expectations, touching on the issue of infant mortality in Victorian times.

Jed, who worked for the NHS for 40 years as a nurse in London hospitals, and Judith love to read and are particularly fond of historical fiction.

Like many other enthusiasts, he believes a modern-day Dickens would be writing complex, multi-layered story lines, not uncommon with soap opera scripts of today.

He believes studying his work, along with that of William Shakespeare, should remain an integral part of the school curriculum.

Dickens fan Jed Sheerin of High Halstow. Picture: Chris Davey
Dickens fan Jed Sheerin of High Halstow. Picture: Chris Davey

The grandparents have encouraged their three daughters to read as much as possible. It was their girls – Suzanna, 29, Leonie, 31, and Sarah, 33 – who bought him a bound collection of his main works for Christmas.

He said: "My favourite is Barnaby Rudge because Dennis the Hangman is truly the most horrible character I have come across."

His most recent read is Dickens' last unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which he was writing in the grounds of his home at Gad's Hill, Higham.

The anniversary of his death is due to be commemorated on June 8, 2020.

Jed wrote the following "fun piece" to appeal to "old hands of Dickens, and, hopefully to new readers".

Can you find the 15 novels in the text? It is entitled 150 for a One Hundred and Fiftieth!

A gloomy mid-November morning and the townspeople, semi-visible, purblind in fogbound streets, were singularly preoccupied with the mystery of Edwin Drood’s death at Bleak House. Peculiar circumstances; signalling an untimely end to his great expectations.

News-stands blazoned the Pickwick papers’ headlines: "Inspector Martin Chuzzlewit – 'I’ll un-puzzle it'."

Perennially busy little Dorrit was overheard speaking with uncharacteristic bluntness to David Copperfield: “That simpleton Barnaby Rudge, you mark my words, fool or no fool; he’s responsible for bringing more than hard times to our mutual friend.”

Her perspicacious assessment so impressed Nicholas Nickleby that he opined to Master Oliver: “Twist it how you will; that foolish boy’s head is filled with more oddities than the Old Curiosity Shop, new branches of which – I’m reliably informed – have just been opened by Dombey and Son, in London and Paris.”

And thereby, my highly esteemed, assiduous and indefatigable reader, hangs a tale of two cities.

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