Charles Dickens

The Dickens family moved from London to Sheerness in January 1817 as his father John who was a naval clerk had a temporary posting.  Four months later they moved to Chatham.

From ‘Dickens’ by Peter Ackroyd:

“It seems that they rented a house next door to the Sheerness Theatre, and one mid-nineteenth-century chronicler said of John Dickens that “of an evening he used to sit in this room, and could hear what was passing on the stage, and join in the chorus of ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Britannia Rules the Waves'”. Songs and theatres are to feature large in Dicken’s childhood, and here is perhaps the first intimation of that long-forgotten world – in the vision of John Dickens singing patriotic songs in his sitting room, listening eagerly to the sounds coming from a small wooden theatre. A world in which nautical or comic songs and theatrical farces were the most popular form of entertainment. This is the world beside which Charles Dickens grew up.”

From ‘Charles Dickens’ by D. Dailey, K. Zimmer:

“They lived next door to the Sheerness Theatre, and from his sitting room John would sing along to the choruses of patriotic songs emanating from the stage. From an early age, Charles was exposed to the popular entertainment of the day, which includes theatrical farces, comic songs and naval songs.”

“The Theatre” in Sheerness was a wooden building standing on a site now enclosed by the dockyard wall. Samuel Jerrold and his family lived in Sheerness and rented the theatre for £50 a year.

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