Who’s behind the written word? asks uni professor

Professor John Drew
Professor John Drew

Identifying the different voices of Charles Dickens as newspaper editor, reporter and story writer is the subject of a talk at the Radcliffe Centre on Tuesday, November 19.

“The press is a mighty engine, Sir!” cried the editor of the Eatanswill Gazette in Pickwick Papers, and the talk will look at the way in which the reader is left to try and work out who is behind the various pieces of writing in the papers.

The lecture, by John Drew, professor of English literature at the University of Buckingham, looks at disguised authorship in the 19th century and in today’s digital age.

Dickens was renowned for writing anonymous pieces in Victorian periodicals as he frequently juggled positions as commissioning editor, copy editor, leader writer and collaborator.

Prof Drew said: “How do you work out if a piece of writing is by your favourite author if there is no name on it?”

He has examined pieces of writing from Dickens’ time to establish whether the article was by the renowned writer.

The free talk, entitled His Master’s Voice? Identifying Authorship In The Age Of Digital Reproduction, is at 6.30pm.

Prof Drew is the author of Dickens The Journalist and the director of the Dickens Journals Online project. See www.djo.org.uk