Author Archive

Interview with Damian Le Bas

I was lucky enough to interview Damian Le Bas, #author of ‘The Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain’ for the Goldster ‘Inside Story’. You can watch the interview here Subscribe to the Goldster YouTube channel for more of mine and my co-presenter, Humphrey Hawksley’s, Book Club videos.

28 February 2022 horizontal rule

Dubai Festival of Literature

I’m in Dubai for the Emirates Festival of Literature. Tonight (7 February) is the main event for me, ‘Miss Havisham’s Wedding’, a celebration of the women in Charles Dickens’s life and work in celebration of his 210th birthday.

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New Dickens podcast

I was very pleased to be invited to be actor Dominic Gerrard’s first guest on his brand new podcast about Charles Dickens. Listen for free and subscribe to the next episodes here:

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Rosie Stancer interview

On Tues 14 December at 12pm GMT I’m doing a free online interview with a really amazing woman, the explorer Rosie Stancer. You can register for free tickets here:

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Pumpkins and Pokemons

This article was originally published in The Vegetarian magazine in 2001. 

It sounded impressive to say, “I’m not around this weekend, I’m off to Belgium for a festival”, but it wasn’t to any Glastonbury equivalent that I was speeding through Le Tunnel (do French-speakers call it ‘The Tunnel’?). I was heading to Tourinnes-Saint-Lambert in the district of Walloon Brabant to attend “The Festival of the Pumpkin and Curious, Strange and Forgotten Vegetables”. 

It may not sound like the perfect weekend break to many of you, but as a vegetarian, I felt I owed it to veggie culture to try it out. 

The weekend started on Eurostar and the weather was beautiful as the train chugged out of London, boding well for the following day’s festival-in-a-field experience. Unfortunately the sky was looking less and less welcoming as we came out of the tunnel and headed towards Belgium. By the time the train reached Brussels I was wishing I’d packed wellies instead of fairly useless little boots.

I was met at the station by Sue, from the Belgian Tourist Board, who’d also never visited the festival before. I thought she’d be irritated at the prospect and was happy to suggest she just drop me off somewhere, but she told me she’d been as intrigued as I had by the name and was looking forward to it. I discovered later that her alternative had been doing the round of Belgium’s golf courses with another journalist, in what had been forecast to be steady rain, so maybe my trip was the lesser of two evils….

On the night before the festival we stayed in the Grand Hotel at Waterloo, about a 45-minute drive from the festival site. Being a vegetarian, going to Belgium and France isn’t usually my idea of a great culinary experience. As various friends and relatives have persistently moved to work in Brussels, I’ve visited Belgium a great many times in recent years, and every single time had proved a culinary lowspot in my travel diary. Our dinner that night at the hotel was the meal to change all that. 

As was expected, there was only one vegetarian dish on the menu and that was a starter I had to ask the chef to adapt to a main course, but when it arrived, it was superb. The staff were also extremely accommodating, which, again, isn’t something I usually associate with Belgian restaurants after mentioning the words “Je suis une vegetarienne”. Given my previous experiences of endless pommes frites and watery side vegetables this was a welcome change, as was the menu of wonderful puddings, mostly sans gelatine. Never have I eaten so well and with so little hassle in Belgium. Though I suspect being a guest of the tourist board might have had something to do with that.

The following day dawned grey and wet and a persistent rain was audible throughout breakfast, but we comforted ourselves with such unscientific comments as “rain before 7, fine before 11” and our confident predictions that it was a little squall which would soon blow over. With a hired car and map, we set off confidently, the rain had stopped and all seemed suddenly right with the world. Until we discovered that Belgian roads are congenitally confusing. Seemingly perfectly signposted, you are lulled you into a false sense of security before the road seems to snigger at the ineptitude of the tourist. Having been encourage for several kilometres you will suddenly discover that, although you are certainly on the correct road, you’ve been going in the wrong direction. As Sue drove and swore, turned around and drove back again, then found her way to another road, on which we underwent the same ritual, I sat helpfully in the passenger seat enjoying watching the countryside go past – first in one direction and then in the other. It was beautiful; reminiscent of English countryside, but on a much vaster, more open scale. While the sky kept veering between silver grey and fresh blue we earnestly assured one other that we were definitelyfollowing the blue patch.

By the time we saw our first signs to the festival site, it had started to drizzle lightly (but persistently). I thought of my wellies, safely at home still snug and warm on a dry shelf. The roads became slightly smaller with each turn until we were directed up a dirt track and to a parking area in what looked like a recently furrowed field. The first thing I noticed was everyone else getting out of their cars and putting on sturdy rubber boots (I imagine that in an area so close to the Waterloo battleground they’re probably not called Wellingtons).

The festival itself turned out to be a fairly standard country show possessed of a very clever marketing person with a skill for nomenclature. There was a competition for the heaviest pumpkin – some of which I was gratified to see weighed more than I do – as well as for the best-dressed pumpkin. There were artistic displays of the ‘curious, strange and forgotten vegetables’ most of which seemed to be squashes and gourds of multifarious colours and shapes. They were strangely beautiful. Tim Burton could have taken inspiration for the backdrop of an avant-garde film.

The many stalls sold a wide variety of produce and oddities. Although some were carefully in keeping with the festival, with Hallowe’en items figuring prominently, others seemed merely to have wandered in by chance and set up shop regardless. The more canny of the oddity-sellers stuck a couple of pumpkin-shaped candles or a few amusingly shaped courgettes along the edge of their tables in a pretence of taking the festival seriously.

Wares on sale ranged from home made honey cake (delicious and veggie – ingredients listed on the package) to Pumpkin Liqueur, which was 20% alcohol and felt like it was taking the skin off the roofs of our mouths. It looked like flat Tizer and, after the initial fire-water shock, left a very strange aftertaste of searing pumpkin. 

There were also cheeses – though my French isn’t good enough to be able to discover if they were animal-rennet free – vegetables of all shapes and sizes, packets of seeds, honey, pollen, candles, compost, garden ornaments, textiles and all manner of items made from gourds, including jewellery and hair ornaments.

Amongst the non-pumpkin wares were some of the most unaesthetic ‘handicrafts’ I’ve ever seen, perhaps the most disturbing being rather terrifying pokemons and teletubbies made out of clay. There was, however, a separate area for traditional handicrafts – lace-making, wood turning, metal work, glass blowing, wrought ironwork – and some of these were beautiful. There were kitchen utensils made from beaten copper; lampshades and clocks made from carved gourds; and sinuous oil lamps which we watched being created from molten glass and iron, a mesmeric sight.

Despite what was by now steady rain, by the end of the day Sue and I had spent so much of the day laughing, that the ridiculous inadequacies of our clothing and footwear – just like the rain – washed over us. The kindness of Belgian hospitality continued after we returned to the field that had been serving as a carpark to discover that our once-pristine car had sunk firmly into what was now very dense mud. As we stood looking helpless, a man appeared on a tractor and wordlessly hauled out the car, before cheerfully carrying on to the next one. The hire car that had started out gleaming silver was now firmly battlefield brown, yet, amazingly, when Sue returned it, the car hire firm didn’t even comment. 

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Armistead Maupin interview

On 1 October I shall be interviewing the wonderful Armistead Maupin, one of my favourite writers! He is the author of the ‘Tales of the City’ series & more, including his reent memoir ‘ Logical Family’ Join us for this very special GoldsterClub Author-to-Author at 6pm (UK time) by clicking this link

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Sherlock Holmes Online Walking Tour

When Audible asked me to write a podcast about ‘The Real Sherlock’ I decided to create a walking tour of London that would take in some of the most important places in the lives of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the world’s most famous detective.

Join me on this virtual walking tour, on 23 August, where I’ll introduce you to the places that inspired the author and helped him to create Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and many other memorable characters. It’s also a great chance to see parts of London you may not have been able to visit – or perhaps you live in London and have simply walked past them without knowing their significance. You can join the event from anywhere in the world. Come and discover some of the hidden wonders of this wonderful city and be immersed in the London of Sherlock Holmes.

Baker Street tube station in London
Audible Original The Real Sherlock, by Lucinda Hawksley
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Marc & Isambard Brunel – online event

My next online event is on the fabulous Marc & Isambard Brunel, two of my favourite Victorians. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. It’s happening on 17 Aug (6.30pm UK time), and is joinable from all over the world. Please spread the word.

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Hawksley Workman event!

On Saturday 20 March, I’ll be chatting online to award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman. It’s happening at 7pm UK time / 2pm Toronto time. We’ll be talking about writing, songs & hopes for a post-pandemic (fingers crossed…) world.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Please spread the word!

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The Mystery around Dickens’s Death

My latest article for RLF Collected, ‘The Mystery around Dickens’s Death’

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Online walking tour

On 24 March, I’ll be doing a virtual ‘walking tour’ about William Morris in West London, starting at 6pm UK time, joinable from anywhere

William Morris
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Dickens in N America in 1842

In 1842, Charles and Catherine Dickens set sail from Liverpool for a 6-month tour of the USA and Canada. In this online event, I’ll be talking about their journey and how it inspired Dickens’s writing. This is the first in a series of talks I’ll be giving over the next year, inspired by the book I’ve just finished writing, Dickens and Travel (which will be published later this year, pandemic permitting!).

Charles Dickens by Francis Alexander, painted in Boston in 1842.

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Online Event 26 Feb

On 26 Feb, I’ll be talking to YA author Kate Darbishire about her novel ‘Speechless’. We’ll be talking about #writing, representations of disability in popular culture, especially Cerebral Palsy, & what it’s like to self publish. Join us for this Online Event via Eventbrite.

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Travelling with E.M.Forster

The following article first appeared in The Independent newspaper in March 2016.

On my first visit to Italy I was 13. It was on a Schools Abroad trip, on which we spent a night in the port of Brindisi, where I and my fellow schoolmates were sexually harassed by scary sailors, made sick by the stink of diesel and where nothing could have been further from the Italy of Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson. The next time I went to Italy I was about to go to university – I was in love with life, in love with travelling, in love with love and more than ready to fall in love with the Italy I knew from the works of E M Forster. It is a love affair that has never ended.

The British Institute in Florence, Italy, displaying copies of my book Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards - Facial Hair in Art.
The British Institute in Florence, Italy, displaying copies of my book Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards – Facial Hair in Art.

I first read A Room with a Viewat the age of 14 – and have continued to do so, on a regular basis, ever since. I turn to it whenever I need comfort reading; it’s the literary equivalent of hot buttery mashed potato on a miserably cold day. Despite having read it so many times, I seem to discover something new each time I read it.

Lights on the River Arno, in Florence, Italy, at night.
Lights on the River Arno, in Florence, Italy, at night.

The first time I visited Florence, I felt I knew it already. Seeing the Arno and knowing this was the same river on which Lucy, Charlotte and the Emersons also gazed, gave me a thrill of connection to a past age. In 2015 I gave a talk on my biography of Princess Louise at the British Institute in Florence. Stepping into the building, on the banks of the Arno, was to enter a world where nothing seemed to have changed since Princess Louise’s time (incidentally, a woman whom Forster knew). I felt as though I’d stepped into the Florence the Rev Eager would recognise, and was sure I could discern some of his “flock” in the audience.

There are so many books one should never re-read: books that spoke soulfully to your younger self seldom work when read again (most notably, for me, Paolo Coelho’s By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept).A Room With A View, however, has entertained me at all stages of my life so far. Wherever I’ve travelled, I’ve encountered Forster’s characters. In Jordan, I could discern Mr Beebe and Mr Emerson visiting the temples of Petra. Last year I was in Norway when I saw a family sit down for a picnic – and they actually possessed “mackintosh squares”. I have visited churches, temples and mosques all over the world and have lost count of the times I have been informed “this was built by faith”, to which I always intone in my mind Mr Emerson’s words: “Built by faith indeed! That simply means the workmen weren’t paid properly.” So far, I have managed to prevent myself from saying it out loud. I hope E M Forster would smirk a wry smile at that.

3 February 2021 horizontal rule

Napier – New Zealand’s architectural gem

A vintage car in downtown Napier, New Zealand.

I have been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time in New Zealand, a country that will always be very special to me. The following article appeared in Oberoi Magazine.

On the morning of 3 February 1931, people in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand’s North Island woke to what seemed like a particularly calm day, although the summer heat felt oppressive, as though a storm was brewing. One peculiarity noticed by several residents of the seaside town of Napier was that the sea was a strange colour. As they ate their breakfast or took early morning walks, they were unaware that their life was about to change forever. At around 10:46am, the earth heaved and shuddered. The second shock was even more violent and the earth seemed to rip apart. Freda Sharp, a schoolgirl in Napier, wrote to her relatives in England that “the ground came up in mountains beneath our feet”.

The earthquake, which reached 7.8 on the Richter Scale, lasted for just under three minutes, but it – and the ensuing fires – devastated the region. 256 people were killed and thousands more injured. Throughout New Zealand, many of the buildings had been created by European architects, settlers who had no concept of the need to create earthquake-proof buildings. 

An Art Deco building in Napier, New Zealand

Before the earthquake, Napier hadresembled other fairly prosperous New Zealand towns, its architecture a mixture of styles, having grown up and been added to with every new influx of settlers. Immediately after the earthquake, with thousands of people in temporary accommodation and so many surviving buildings now declared unsafe, the town desperately needed rebuilding. While much of the world, including New Zealand, was struggling under the Great Depression, architects and builders were starved of work. There was little money to spare and the lavish building projects of the 1920s had been replaced by the belt-tightening of the 1930s. Napier, however, needed to be reinvented. One of Napier’s home-grown architects was Louis Hay, who was enamoured of the very fashionable style of Art Deco. Hay helped to rebuild Napier meaning that New Zealand now boasts one of the world’s most complete Art Deco towns – and a place where, uniquely, Art Deco design incorporates Maori patterns.

Street art in Napier, New Zealand, depictng a 1920s scene of a woman and child waiting for a tram.

Today, Napier makes the most of its iconic 1930s architecture, a time period still redolent of glamour and glitz – despite the Great Depression. The town’s now-famous buildings draw as many tourists as the nearby wildlife and wineries. Every February, the town hosts its hugely popular annual Art Deco festival, which began as a relatively humble affair in 1989, but now lasts for five days and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year. It’s one of those occasions where people notin fancy dress are the ones who look ridiculous. People aren’t the only attendees to arrive in droves: magnificent vintage cars are shipped by enthralled owners from all over the world, just so they can take part in the parade. 

The Art Deco Daily Telegraph building in Napier, New Zealand.

Whatever time of the year you visit, you can join an Art Deco walking tour, or enjoy a journey around the town in a stylish Art Deco-era car, both of which are run by the Art Deco Trust. There are also self-guided walks and driving guides for the region – and if you’ve hired a car, travel on to Hastings, 20 kms from Napier, which also boasts its own post-earthquake Art Deco buildings.

The region is also rightly famed for its wineries. Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s second-largest wine-producing region, and one of the oldest wine-growing areas in the country. The first vines were planted here in 1851, by missionaries. Since then almost 40 wineries have grown up in Hawkes Bay. The region also has beaches, wetlands, hiking trails and it boasts the world’s largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony: the fabulously named Cape Kidnappers. 

The waterfront in Napier, New Zealand

Amongst the historic buildings to be visited in Napier are the Daily Telegraph building, the National Tobacco Company Building, the Masonic Hotel, the ASB bank, and the Art Deco Centre (formerly the Napier Fire Station), which is where the Art Deco tours begin. When you’re walking through Napier, along the pretty walking and biking trail known as Marine Parade, you will also discover a fascinating stucture: the Soundshell. Its design was inspired by the glamour of 1930s Hollywood. The Soundshell was built in 1935 and became a centre of town life and especially of teen life, because its collonaded courtyard provided a dancefloor that doubled as a rollerskating arena. Walk a short distance from the Soundshell to find the tourist information centre, where you can book winery tours, wildlife tours – and encounter possibly the world’s most friendly tourist information staff.

To find out more about Napier visit

To find out more about visiting New Zealand go to

3 February 2021 horizontal rule

Street Art in Melbourne

In 2019, before the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to return to Melbourne, Australia, one of my favourite cities. The following article appeared in Oberoi magazine (unfortunately, with half of the final sentence cut off by the printers!)

Melbourne has a long history of loving art. The first art gallery in Australia was opened here, in 1861, and the city has always had a reputation for being “arty”. Today, alongside all the official galleries, tourists and locals are eager to witness an ever-evolving art – the art of the streets. It changes, sometimes, daily. 

A street artist working in Melbourne, Australia
A street artist working in Melbourne, Australia

The most famous street to visit is Hosier Lane (not far from Flinders Street station), where you’ll witness street artists at work, blithely ignoring all the tourists and clatter and comings and goings all around them, and working just as anyone else would do at their day job. This is because, in Melbourne, street art is now definitely art, not graffiti, and in these streets, it’s not only permitted, but actively encouraged. Gone are the days when street artists had to work furtively, under cover of darkness, risking arrest for their art. Now it’s mainstream, and even the local Melbourne authorities agree that it’s good for artistic expression – and the tourist dollar! 

There are art-covered streets (with varying degrees of skill) all over the city. In the CBD (Central Business District) these include Strachan Lane, Rutledge Lane, Beaney Lane, Snider Lane, Rankins Lane, Caledonian Lane, Presgrave Place, Union Lane, Drewery Lane and Duckboard Place. But for fans of rock and heavy metal, there is only one place to get to: AC/DC Lane. Yes it is actually named after the Australian rock band. Until 2004, it was the much-more conservative Corporation Lane, but that didn’t attract anything like as many pilgrims seeking their heroes as AC/DC Lane does. Here, the art isn’t only painted on the walls, it’s coming out to get you. Former AC/DC singer Bon Scott (who died in 1980), has been sculpted bursting through the brickwork, created by sculptor Mike Makatron.

A street artist working in Melbourne, Australia
A street artist working in Melbourne, Australia

You can download an official street art map and visit the streets on your own, but there are great street art tours, led by working artists, which not only give you far more information that you’d find on your own, but also give you the chance to visit their studios at the end of the tours. Yes, it’s a blatant way for them to sell their work, but surely it’s better to go home with a genuine work of Australian art, rather than mass-produced tourist tat? 

'Real Australian' by Peter Drew
‘Real Australian’ by Peter Drew in Melbourne, Australia

Street art in Melbourne ranges from the simple but pithy stencilled slogans such as “Binge thinking is bad for your health”, to witty works by Stampz, including his kissing Disney princesses, and movingly beautiful images by @n20_jo, her works are so gorgeous that they make you stop, look and then keep looking. As with all the best street art, there are brilliant political works, such as pasted-up posters by Peter Drew, whose “Aboriginal Land Real Australians Seek Welcome” highlights injustices against the Aboriginal community, who are, despite many attempts to pretend otherwise, the original and only indigenous Australians. Another strikingly beautiful work, painted high over Hosier Lane is a massive, haunting portrait of an Aboriginal child, gazing across the top of Melbourne. He looks over what is now the city’s northern suburbs towards what was once a revered and sacred Aboriginal site. The portrait, by artist Adnate, stays in your vision long after seeing it. Long may it stay up there – as far as Adnate is concerned, it will be there until the elements destroy it, which seems a fitting analogy. 

Street art of a child drawing by @n20_jo in Melbourne, Australia
Street art by @n20_jo Street in Melbourne, Australia

There’s controversy here too: the working street artists, who lead the tours, despise over-commercialisation of the area. It might seem like a sweet irony, as they guide paying tourists through the maze of painted streets, but I understood what they meant, as we passed shops charging prices for so-called “street clothing” which only the only those in the salary bracket of a corporate lawyer (or drug dealer) could afford to buy with ease. These shops often pay street artists to create works – but isn’t that selling out? That was the question on seemingly all the artists’ lips. Though, having said that, UK street artist Banksy is still spoken about on the Melbourne scene with awe – yes, his works may be worth a fortune, but the reclusive Banksy still uses his talent to highlight social injustices and, often, to make others’ fortunes. When he paints on the sides of poor-looking buildings in the dead of night, he bequeaths a generous gift to the building’s owners, rather than making money from it himself. The greater irony I found on our tour was passionate way in which our street artist tour guide ranted against single-use plastics – whilst carrying a single-use-plastic water bottle…. 

Street art by Adnate in Melbourne, Australia
Street art by Adnate in Melbourne, Australia

Lucinda Hawksley is an author and travel writer based in London. Find out more at or @lucindahawksley (Twitter and Instagram). 

3 February 2021 horizontal rule

Love Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites

Liven up your lockdown with the ‘Love Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites‘ – my new online event happening at 5.30pm (UK time) on 13 February, joinable from anywhere in the world.

'Paolo & Francesca da Rimini' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painted in 1867.
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Dickens & Zoom

Can you spot my big blue Charles Dickens book getting pride of place in this BBC video? I’m very proud! The updated version is available from the online giftshop at The Charles Dickens Museum and all good bookshops.

Book jacket for 'Charles Dickens' by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley
1 February 2021 horizontal rule

Happy Birthday Mr Dickens!

I’m very excited to announce this special event with the wonderful Miriam Margolyes, in aid of The Charles Dickens Museum. Join us on Sunday 7 February, at 7pm UK time (joinable from anywhere) for Happy Birthday Mr Dickens! Tickets are on sale now

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New Online Event

Join me on Tues 26 Jan for The Life and Lies of Augustus #Dickens, and discover what happened when Charles Dickens’s youngest brother ran away to America.

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The Life and Lies of Augustus Dickens

In the 1850s, Augustus, the youngest brother of Charles Dickens, abandoned his wife in London and ran away to America with his pregnant girlfriend. He was barely spoken about in the family again. A few years ago, I travelled to Chicago to research what had happened to my great x4 uncle and Bertha, the woman who had been brave enough to run away with him. Join me for this online talk and find out about the life and quite extraordinary lies of Augustus – the original owner of the nickname ‘Boz’. 

It’s happening on Tues 26 Jan, at 6pm UK time, but joinable from anywhere in the world

Augustus Newnham Dickens, younger brother of Charles Dickens
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A Very Country Christmas

I was also lucky enough to meet the fab Ellie Harrison and film in Malton in Yorkshire for the BBC’s ‘A Very Country Christmas’. It’s available to watch in the UK on BBC iPlayer

Outside the Counting House Museum in Malton, Yorkshire.
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Paul O’Grady’s Broadstairs

In between lockdowns, I managed to do some filming, including working with the lovely Paul O’Grady on his Great British Escapes programme, for ITV. It’s available to watch on catch up.

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For the love of writing festival

I’m so pleased to have been asked to take part in this writing festival in Melbourne – even if it’s only possible via the power of the internet. I’ll be speaking about Dickens with my friend and fellow patron of the Dickens Museum, Miriam Margolyes. Tickets are on sale now – and FYI, if you’re in Europe, it’s a morning event, not at evening event as it states in the write up (it’s an Australian evening!).

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Black Friday Remembered

18 November 1910: “The date is now remembered in history as ‘Black Friday’, a day on which the police and any anti-suffrage men who cared to join in were permitted – and encouraged – to use not only violence but sexual violence against the women.” #MarchWomenMarch

My book March, Women, March is also available on kindle (the link shows the old book jacket, but is is still the same book)

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1 December: Dickens’s Lost Portrait

This portrait of Charles Dickens was painted at the exact time he was writing A Christmas Carol, in 1843 – and then lost for almost 175 years. Join me to discover what was happening in Dickens’s life while he was working on his most famous Christmas book. I’ll also tell you about the talented female artist who painted his portrait and how she helped to inspire his writing. Fnd out the remarkable story behind the “lost portrait”, how it was re-discovered and how it can help us understand the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

The talk is taking place at 6pm UK time, and is joinable from all over the world. Tickets are on sale via Eventbrite, but the event will be on Zoom.

The Lost Portrait: portrait of Charles Dickens, painted by Margaret Gillies in 1843, exhibited in 1844, then ‘lost’ for amost 175 years.
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Secrets and Surprises…

My next event in the #InConversationWith series is ‘Secrets and Surprises in Biography’, with fellow author Julie Summers, on 22 September. This is an online event, starting at 7pm UK time, but joinable from all over the world. Tickets and more information are available on Eventbrite: The event itself will take place on Zoom (NB you cannot access the event through the Eventbrite website, that’s only a platform for buying tickets.)

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In Conversation With series

Last night was the first in my new series of online talks, #InConversationWith. It started with Dickens and Film with fellow #author, lecturer and #screenwriter James Clarke. It was so much fun and we had people joining from several parts of the globe. Watch this space for more information.

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My new online course in Life Writing

Have you ever wanted to write your memoirs, or are you yearning to write the story of someone else’s life? Why not turn the surreal year that is 2020 into the time when you make that dream a reality?

I have created this 8-week online course in Life Writing to enable you to develop your writing and research skills, give you the confidence to move forward with your ideas and help you to improve your manuscript. 

My weekly classes will be taught in a small-group format via Zoom. You will learn how to begin and plan your book, how to overcome writers’ block, and how to analyse and critique your own work, all in a very supportive – and friendly – environment. This course is suitable for all levels, from aspiring authors to published writers wishing to hone their life-writing skills.

The course will begin on Wednesday 9 September 2020 at 2pm-6pm UK time. It includes eight online classes, guided writing tasks with feedback from the tutor, and a final one-to-one tutorial for each student. There will also be an opportunity to arrange ongoing tutorials after the course has ended, should you wish. Enrolment is open to participants from all over the world. The course costs £450 and can be booked any time up to 6 September. For more information and to book, please email

6 August 2020 horizontal rule

Eastbourne talk postponed

Today I should have been giving a talk about my book ‘Elizabeth Revealed’ at the lovely Langham Hotel in Eastbourne. Sadly, for obvious reasons, we’ve had to postpone it, BUT my author talk will be happening in 2021! (FYI, isn’t this book jacket gorgeous? Well done to the team at Scala books and HRP publishing.)

Book jacket for Elizabeth Revealed by Lucinda Hawksley.
4 August 2020 horizontal rule

Online talk: A hairy history of art!

Come on a pogonographic journey into the history of facial hair in art! A few years ago I was commissioned to give several lectures and tours of the National Portrait Gallery about hairy history, and this resulted in my book Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards, inspired by the gallery’s collection. It’s a fun look at history of art as well as the social history of bewhiskered men and women, taking place on Thursday 30 July, at 6pm UK time – but joinable from all over the world. You can book tickets by following the Eventbrite link: Or by searching for “hairy history” on your Eventbrite app.

Once you have booked a ticket, please wait for an email, which will arrive on time for you to join the talk. That email will contain the zoom joining details of meeting ID and password. Please ensure you check your junk mail folders for the email, thank you. Please note I don’t record my talks, so I’m afraid it won’t be possible to watch the talk later. 

Take care and stay safe in this surreal time.

Moustaches, Whiskers and Beards by Lucinda Hawksley (book jacket)
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De Morgan Foundation talk, 31 July

Last year, I was invited to become a Patron of the De Morgan Foundation. On 31 July, I’m doing my first event for them. Obviously it has to be online, but the great news about that is that you can join from anywhere in the world! I’ll be talking about Lizzie Siddal with Sarah Hardy, from the Foundation. Advance booking is essential:

Book jacket: Lizzie Siddal, the Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel, by Lucinda Hawksley
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Lizzie Siddal online talk

On Monday 6 July, I’m doing an online lecture on ‘Lizzie Siddal, The Original Supermodel’. It starts at 6pm UK time, and is joinable from all over the world – as long as you’ll be awake at that time! I have been doing regular online lectures during the pandemic lockdown. Please also check my Twitter page @lucindahawksley for more regular updates. Tickets for my Lizzie Siddal talk are available here:

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Katey in the ODNB

My article on the artist Kate Perugini (née Dickens, also known as Kate Collins) has been published by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. It’s long overdue. In common with so many female artists, she has been unfairly forgotten for so long, and I’m so glad that Katey finally has an ODNB page. The pictures here are of Katey, painted by Marcus Stone, and perhaps my favourite of all her paintings ‘Flossie’.

Katey painted by Marcus Stone in 1865

Flossie by Kate Perugini, 1892
30 June 2020 horizontal rule


9 June 2020 is the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens’s death, and commemorative events had been planned for all over the world, which have sadly all needed to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. There will be, however, many online events happening, including an online conference, in aid of the Charles Dickens Museum in London (which is really struggling due to the UK being in lockdown). Find out more here: I will be taking part, by interviewing Armando Iannucci about his love of Dickens, at 8pm.

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Online talk 3 June

I’ve started a series of online lectures to help us through this strange time of staying at home. The first was a virtual tour of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and the second is about Katey Dickens – aka the artist Kate Perugini – and it’s happening at 6pm London time on Wed 3 June. More info and ticket sales via this link on Eventbrite:

Please spread the word, thank you. It is joinable from all over the world, to anyone who is awake at 6pm UK time!

Take care and stay safe.

Book jacket for my biography 'Dickens's Artistic Daughter Katey', published by Pen and Sword.

2 June 2020 horizontal rule

Lockdown Lectures

Tomorrow I was supposed to be taking alumni from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on a tour of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now, we’ll be doing this online tour of the gallery instead, via Zoom. If you know anyone else who might be interested in an online lecture / gallery tour please get in touch. #StaySafe

 for my lecture: A Virtual Tour of the National Portrait Gallery in London.
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Dickens Lost Portrait podcast

If you’re looking for something to listen to during this strange time of lockdown, here’s a link to the podcast I made with Philip Mould, Emma Rutherford and others about the Lost Portrait of Charles Dickens. It’s in 3 episodes.

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Book now!

The last booking date for my Life Writing course at the Verrocchio Arts Centre in Tuscany is 29 Feb 2020. The course is taking place 25 June-2 July 2020. Find out more here: or email Hannah on for more information.

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Happy Birthday Dickens!

Happy birthday to my great great great grandfather: Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812. Find out more in my book, which is available from the Charles Dickens Museum bookshop and all other good #bookshops, as well as online.

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Learn to write in Tuscany – book now!

Places are now available for my Life Writing course in the beautiful Verrocchio Art Centre in Tuscany. The course runs from 25 June 2020 until 2 July 2020. Numbers are strictly limited so early booking is a must. Find out more here: and email Hannah on with any queries. Please spread the word, thank you.

The image shows deckchairs on the sunny terrace at the Verrocchio Art Centre in Tuscany, Italy.
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Top Podcasts of 2019!

So pleased to see that my podcast “The Real Sherlock” made it into this article in Good Housekeeping Magazine:

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Dickens & Christmas walking tour – book now!

On 17 December, I’ll be leading a walking tour in London about Dickens and Christmas. Tickets are available on Eventbrite:

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Victorian Radicals in Texas

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to the San Antonio Museum of Art in Texas, which is currently hosting an exhibition entitled Victorian Radicals, including many items from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in England.

I was invited to give development training to the musem’s docents about the Aesthetic movement and to give a public lecture on Charles Dickens and the Pre-Raphaelites, which was a packed house!

Thank you San Antonio, for making me so welcome. What a beautiful place. If you’re in Texas, make sure you visit the exhibition. You won’t be disappointed.

The image shows the interior of the San Antonio Museumn of Art with the exhibition banner for Victorian Radicals: from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement, as well as a banner showing the image of Medea by Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederick Sandys.
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Dickens in Dallas

Thank you to SMU for inviting me to speak about The Extended Dickens Family at your beautiful university campus in Dallas, Texas.

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Learn to write in Tuscany!

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to write biography or your memoirs, you can book onto my one-week residential course at the beautiful Verrocchio in Tuscany for summer 2020. The course is taking place 25 June-2 July. Find out more here: and reserve your place here:

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Fabula Festival

On 10 October, I’ll be talking about my newly updated book Charles Dickens at Wanstead Library, as part of the Fabula Festival. Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

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Arvon: Narrative Non-Fiction

I am really looking forward to being a tutor on this upcoming writing course for the Arvon Foundation. Narrative Non-Fiction is taking place at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire, the former home of the poet Ted Hughes. The course is taking place on 23-28 September.

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Pre-Raphaelites in Texas

US fans of the Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts & Crafts movement should head to San Antonio in Texas for this great new exhibition, Victorian Radicals, opening in October:

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Dickens in Texas

I am very pleased to have been invited back to Galveston, Texas, for this year’s Dickens on the Strand festival. It is taking place on 6-8 December. Come along and raise money for the architectural charity, the Galveston Historical Foundation, which has helped to save and preserve so many 19th-century buildings. (Yes, I know the sunglasses in this photo aren’t very authentic, but they were necessary!)

26 June 2019 horizontal rule

Dickens for 2020

Yesterday I popped in Carlton Books to fetch my very first author copy of my fully updated book about Charles Dickens. I think it is beautiful! Well done to all the team at Carlton, who have created a really lovely book.

Some of you may remember that this first came out in 2012, for the Dickens Bicentenary. This new version (priced £20 and coming out in September) is being published to commemorate the next Dickens anniversary: 2020 marks 150 years since his death. I’m already taking bookings for events, so please get in touch with me or my agent(s) to find out more.

The book jacket for my new book Charles Dickens: The Man, The Novels, The Victorian Age.
26 June 2019 horizontal rule

Meeting Fagin’s descendant

When I was in Sydney for the NSW Dickens Conference, I was fortunate to meet a number of great people, including the Australian authors Tom Keneally and Kate Forsyth. This photo is of me and Scott Whitmont, a bookseller and writer, who has a close connection to Dickensian history. Scott is the great great great nephew of Ikey Solomons, one of the inspirations used by my great great great grandfather Charles Dickens when he created the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist!

27 May 2019 horizontal rule

Edwin Drood for Audible

Last week, I had the exciting experience of recording in the Audible office in Sydney, Australia – where I was visiting to attend the NSW Dickens Conference. I recorded my narration of the Afterword I had written to accompany the new narration of The Mystery of Edwin Drood – the best mystery story ever written, because Charles Dickens died before he could write the ending!

26 May 2019 horizontal rule

Dickens Weekend By The Seaside

Book your tickets now from for a Weekend by the Seaside with Dickens in Manly, Sydney, on 18 & 19 May. Check out the programme here: (  Two of Dickens’s sons moved to Australia and, aptly, this year’s theme is “Dickens and the Family”. I’ll be talking about my books and family history in two talks entitled “The Great Expectations of the Children of Charles Dickens” on the Saturday and “Katey: Dickens’s Artist Daughter” on the Sunday.

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The Real Sherlock

My new podcast, ‘The Real Sherlock’, is available to download from Audible. Discover the man behind the creation of Sherlock Holmes. The life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was as adventurous and exciting as that of his fictional detective.

The image shows an Audible illustration to accompany the podcast of The Real Sherlock. The picture is of a smoking pipe, reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes.
8 March 2019 horizontal rule

Lizzie Siddal inspiring Fashion

A fashion show from N’a Pas De Quoi inspired by Lizzie Siddal as Ophelia. Wonderful! You can find out more about Lizzie in my biography, published by Carlton Books

31 January 2019 horizontal rule

Walk Charles Dickens’s London

If you’re planning a trip to London – or if you live there! – my downloadable walking tour works with your smartphone and takes you on a journey from Dickens’s first adult home, to the Charles Dickens Museum via many of the London streets and sites from which he took inspiration. It is available to download from Voice Map:

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A free Dickens podcast

Find out more about the Dickens Lost Portrait and its amazing journey in this fascinating three-part podcast (free to download). I’m in episode 3.

30 January 2019 horizontal rule

My Audible narration

If you’re seeking a great #audiobook, try ‘Our Mutual Friend’ by Charles #Dickens, narrated by Meera Syal – with an introduction written & narrated by me!

The image shows the Audible image for the cover of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, narrated by Meera Syal, with an introduction written and narrated by me.
29 January 2019 horizontal rule

Plan your next holiday

If you’re dreaming of your next holiday, gain inspiration for your travels, with my beautiful book, The Writer Abroad, published by The British Library. It’s available from all good bookshops and from the British Library shop – either in person or online.

22 January 2019 horizontal rule

The Dickens Lost Portrait

This portrait of Charles Dickens was painted by the Scottish artist Margaret Gillies in 1843. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1844. Since then it has been considered lost, the artist herself had no idea what had happened to it and its fate became a mystery. Until now – it was discovered in a terrible state (now restored as you can see) in a box of ‘household junk’ in South Africa. Now the Dickens Museum is trying to raise funds to buy it for its collection. Can you help? If so, please follow this link:

Find out more about the portrait and its amazing journey in this fascinating three-part podcast (free to download):

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Te Papa, Wellington

On 26 January, I’ll be talking about my book ‘Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper and Arsenic in the Victorian Home’ at Te Papa in Wellington, New Zealand. Tickets and more info here:

2 January 2019 horizontal rule

175 Years of A Christmas Carol

It’s taken until early January for me to be able to update about the amazing response to the 175th anniversary of the publication of ‘A Christmas Carol’ – December was an incredible month and the outpouring of affection for Dickens’s “ghost story of Christmas” was really moving. As several people observed, perhaps it was because the world and the world’s media was exhausted with bad news and wanted a good news story.

Here is just a sample of some of the media around the #Carol175 celebrations:

BBC Worldwide TV News

The Independent

The Daily Collegiate (Penn State University)

The Yorkshire Post

London Live

BBC News


Living North

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Telegraph Picture of the Day

I was really privileged to be photographed by the brilliant Charlotte Graham for the 175th anniversary of ‘A Christmas Carol’ holding the beautiful edition of Dickens’s classic story, which is owned by the people of Malton in Yorkshire (the home of Dickens’s friends, the lawyer Charles Smithson and his wife Elizabeth). Charlotte’s image was chosen as one of the ‘Pictures of the Day’ (the copyright for this image is with the photographer, Charlotte Graham).

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Doctor Who and A Christmas Carol

On Sat 15 Dec, I’ll be in Malton in Yorkshire talking about ‘Doctor Who and A Christmas Carol’, as part of the Malton Dickens Festival, with BBC producer and Doctor Who expert Gavin Collinson.

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Fleet Library talk

On Thursday 22 November, I’ll be talking about Dickens and Christmas at Fleet Library in Hampshire. Tickets are available from the library.

17 November 2018 horizontal rule

175 Years of A Christmas Carol

Tickets are now on sale for a very special evening at the Charles Dickens Museum in London. 19 December 2018 is the 175th anniversary of the publication of A Christmas Carol. I am holding a celebratory evening, together with friends who will help entertain you, in praise of Dickens’s little ghost of an idea. You can buy tickets online, or from the museum itself.




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“16 facts about HM The Queen”

This Historic Royal Palaces blog is taken from my new book, Elizabeth Revealed


You can buy my book from good bookshops or online from the publisher:

4 November 2018 horizontal rule

Elizabeth Revealed

This is my new book! Elizabeth Revealed: 500 Facts about the Queen and her World is available now worldwide, published by Scala together with Historic Royal Palaces. You should be able to get it at your local bookshop, or you can order it online here: (isn’t this a beautiful book jacket?)

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175 Years of ‘A Christmas Carol’

On 19 December, the 175th anniversary of ‘A Christmas Carol’, I’m going to be leading two special Dickens and Christmas walking tours of London, the first at 10am ( & the second at 2pm ( Both are on Eventbrite and bookable now!

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Red Lion Books, Colchester

I’ll be talking about Lizzie Siddal, Kate Perugini and Princess Louise at the Red Lion Bookshop in Colchester, Essex, at 5pm on Tuesday 23 October. Come along and see the brand new updated version of my Katey biography!


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Dagenham Library talk

On 19 September, I’ll be talking aboout March Women March at Barking & Dagenham Library. Tickets are free but need to be booked in advance.

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Walking tour: The Man Who Invented Sherlock Holmes

My new walking tour, The Man Who Invented Sherlock Holmes, is happening on 20 October in London. Book tickets now:

Walk through the London of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes – two fascinating men whose lives were shaped by the streets of this fascinating, and often lawless, city. Find out how Arthur Conan Doyle created the world’s most famous fictional detective, and how Sherlock grew into a literary phenomenon. The walk will begin at Regent’s Park and end near Covent Garden.


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Walking tour: William Morris in West London

Book tickets now for my new walking tour, happening on Sat 28 July in London.

Walk along some of the prettiest river paths in London and discover the worlds of William Morris and his friends, as well as stories of feisty suffragettes, poets, designers, and ghosts of the old river. The walk will begin at Hammersmith station and end at Ravenscourt Park.

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Princess Louise on Audible

On 12 June, my biography of Princess Louise will be available on Audible (& you can pre-order it now):

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Queen Victoria and her Tragic Family

Queen Victoria and her Tragic Family begins on TV in the UK this weekend, starting on Channel 5 this Saturday (19 May), for 3 weeks: I’ll be on it talking about Princess Louise. Hopefully it’ll be shown elsewhere around the world soon.



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The Project NZ

Last night I had great fun chatting with the presenters of The Project NZ (on TV3) about my book Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards, and about the Auckland Writers’ Festival. If you can access facebook, you can watch this video of the interview:


16 May 2018 horizontal rule

Auckland Writers’ Festival

I am doing 2 events at the Auckland Writers’ Festival this month, if you’re coming along, come and say hello and get your book signed! More info here:

4 May 2018 horizontal rule

Also Festival

Tickets are now on sale for Also Festival, 29 June-1 July, “the best independent ideas festival in the country” – and I’ll be speaking there. (Wellies at the ready, just in case….) Find out more here:

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Wendover Library talk

At 7pm on 18 April, I’ll be talking about Bitten By Witch Fever at Wendover Library. Come & discover the history of #arsenic (wallpaper, murder, food colouring…). Tickets are on sale now:

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Happy Birthday Princess Louise

Princess Louise was born 170 years ago today. Her life was fascinating to write about – even though my research was hampered by the mysteriousness of discovering the Royal Archives have closed off her files. Discover her story, available worldwide:


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Afternoon Tea with Dickens

On 8 June 2018, you can join me for Tea with Dickens, at Devizes Town Hall, as part of the Devizes Arts Festival. Tickets are on sale now:


16 March 2018 horizontal rule

My new book on Katey Dickens Perugini

I have fully updated my 2006 biography of Kate Perugini (née Dickens). Katey, as I came to know her, was a superb artist and a central figure in the late 19th-century art world; she was also my great great great aunt. This updated version was made possible by the many kind people who contacted me after reading my first edition of the book to share news about previously ‘lost’ paintings. Researching Katey again has been so fascinating. Her new biography is being published by Pen and Sword on 30 April 2018. If you order it in advance (link below), you will get a discount of £3:

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Writing Biography workshop in Auckland

My other event at the Auckland Writers’ Festival in May is a workshop on “Writing Biography”. Tickets have just gone on sale:


16 March 2018 horizontal rule

Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards in Auckland

I am very happy to have been invited to take part in the Auckland Writers’ Festival in May. One of my events is a talk on my NPG book Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards, tickets go on sale today:

16 March 2018 horizontal rule

Princess Louise in Mayfair

If you’re a member of the University Women’s Club in London, come along to my talk about Princess Louise on 22 November. If you’re not a member, call the number on the poster and if numbers permit you can also get a ticket.

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HLSI on Hallowe’en

On 31 October, I’ll  be talking about Bitten By Witch Fever for the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution.


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Download my Dickens’s London walking tour

Planning a trip to London? You can download my walking tour and walk in the footsteps of Charles Dickens:

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Dickens & Christmas walking tour

On 21 December, I’ll be leading my newest walking tour, Dickens and Christmas, in London. Tickets have just gone on sale, so please spread the word: 


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Gibraltar Lit Fest

On 18 November, I’ll be talking about Charles Dickens and his Circle at the Gibraltar Lit Fest:

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Harlots & Hangers On

Tickets are now on sale for my event in Broadstairs on 24 September with my friend & fellow author Hallie Rubenhold. Please spread the word, thank you.

13 September 2017 horizontal rule

Please donate for Hurricane Irma’s victims

Please donate to help those in the BVI whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Irma, thank you.

13 September 2017 horizontal rule

The US paperback of Princess Louise

Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter, my biography of the sculptor Princess Louise, is now out in paperback in the US, published by Thomas Dunne Books.

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Stanfords Travel talk, 13 September

On 13 September I’ll be talking about travel writing and my new book The Writer Abroad (published by the British Library) at Stanfords Travel bookshop in Covent Garden, London. Tickets are on sale now, please spread the word.

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Walk in Dickens’s Footsteps

If you live in, or are visiting, London, you can walk in the footsteps of my great great great grandfather with my downloadable walking tour:

1 August 2017 horizontal rule

Is it too early to mention Christmas…?

I know it’s still only July but, at the moment, if you pre-order my upcoming book Dickens and Christmas (which is due out at the end of October), you’ll get £4 off.

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Gibraltar Literary Festival 2017

This November, I’ll be speaking about my book “Charles Dickens and his Circle” at the Gibraltar Literary Festival.


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Harlots & Hangers-On

On 24 September I’m doing an event in Broadstairs, Kent, with my friend and fellow author Hallie Rubenhold. Twitter has been making me laugh today, as it has been pointed out that the lack of a comma in this flyer has turned Hallie into my great great great grandmother…

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Warwick Literary Festival

This October, I’ll be speaking about Bitten by Witch Fever at the Warwick Literary Festival. Come along and found out how Victorians were being poisoned by their own homes.

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Dickens in Carrara

This July, I’ll be one of the speakers at the International Dickens Fellowship Conference in Carrara, Italy. I’ll be talking about Dickens and the Pre-Raphaelites.

13 June 2017 horizontal rule

© Lucinda Hawksley 2022. Last updated 24 March 2022.