Dickens and Staplehurst


The Staplehurst rail crash of June 9th, 1865 which claimed ten lives, might have passed relatively unnoticed but for the presence of a celebrity passenger among the survivors. Charles Dickens, returning from France on the ill-fated boat train from Folkestone to London, was to be profoundly affected by the experience. In a fascinating exploration of the circumstances surrounding the disaster and probing insight into Dickens' personal life, the writer's great-great-grandson, Gerald Dickens, examines his secret relationship with the actress Ellen Ternan and professional motivation in the years either side of the accident. Questions concerning the conduct of the inquest into the crash and apportioning of blame are raised that remain unresolved even today. Striking parallels are drawn with more recent disasters and the signs of wrestling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are evident in the account of Dickens' final years, powerfully reflected in the stirring ghost story The Signalman.

Gerald Dickens is a great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens and has been performing one-man stage shows based on the life and works of his ancestor for over twenty years, undertaking major tours of both the UK and America each year. As part of his performance of the atmospheric ghost story The Signalman Gerald began to research the circumstances behind the Staplehurst rail disaster which led to the writing of this book.

He lives in Abingdon with his wife and youngest children.

Paperback, 233 pages.



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