UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Dickens's London

15 March 2012

[image reference is broken] UCL Bloomsbury Campus Our first major public event of the year will be a panel discussion, with audience participation, on Dickens's London on the evening of Thursday 15th March from 6.

00pm. This is open to all UCL staff and students and to members of the public. It will be followed by a drinks reception in the North Cloisters. An Exhibition on UCL and Dickens's London will run through the day in the North Cloisters.

Date: Thursday 15 March from 2.00pm to 8.30pm.
Panel discussion: 6.00pm to 7.30pm, Cruciform Building Lecture Theatre 1, University College London, Gower Street.
Reception: 7.30pm to 8.30pm, Wilkins Building, North Cloisters.
Dickens's London Exhibition: 2.00pm to 8.30pm, Wilkins Building, South Cloisters.

The broadcaster and UCL Fellow Mark Lawson will chair a panel discussion and question and answer session with Rosemary Ashton, OBE, UCL Quain Professor of English, popular London historian Jerry White and Julian Hunt, FRS, author of London's Environment. The approaching Dickens bicentennial we believe provides an opportunity for an examination of Dickens's London, the improvements in the urban environment and public health since his time and the resonances for global megacities. UCL has a proud history in this area with its benefactor Edwin Chadwick's promotion of public health and with John Snow's production of the famous map of the cholera outbreak of Broad Street: while on the other hand UCL is a Centre of excellence for scholarship in Victorian literature. Looking at megacities through the prism of Dickens's writing we believe will offer new insights both into the development of London and of today's global megacities.

Speaker profiles

Rosemary Ashton

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Rosemary Ashton, OBE, is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at UCL. She specializes in Romantic and Victorian literature and the cultural history of nineteenth-century London. Her publications include 142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London (Chatto & Windus, 2006), which by tracing the interconnections among an extraordinary circle of writers, including George Eliot, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens, reconstructs the cultural life of mid-19th-century London. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Julian Hunt

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Julian Hunt, FRS, Baron Hunt of Chesterton, is Emeritus Professor of Climate Modelling at UCL and formerly Director General of the Met Office. He has worked to emphasize urban meteorology and to improve international warnings for disasters. He edited the first book on the environment of a city, London's Environment, Prospects for a Sustainable World City (Imperial College Press, 2005) and has written about Dickens's discovery of the impulse of vortices, 3 years before the German mathematician Kirchoff! He sits on the Advisory Board of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

Mark Lawson

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Mark Lawson is a journalist, broadcaster and author. He presents BBC Radio 4's arts magazine Front Row. He took a degree in English at University College London where his lecturers included Rosemary Ashton, John Sutherland and A.S. Byatt. In the mid-90s he presented The Late Show on BBC2 and has presented The Late Review since 1994. He has twice been voted TV critic of the Year and has won numerous awards for arts journalism. He is a Fellow of UCL.

Jerry White

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Jerry White is an award-winning historian of London. He has had an unusual career for a professional historian as he first pursued a career in local government, and from 1989 to 1995 he was chief executive of the London Borough of Hackney. Since 1997 Jerry has been writing a trilogy on the history of modern London from 1700 to 2000. The final volume, London in the Eighteenth Century. A Great and Monstrous Thing, is published by The Bodley Head in early 2012. Jerry is Visiting Professor of London History, Birkbeck, University of London and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

We will also hold an Exhibition on UCL and Dickens's London, drawing on UCL's Special Collections featuring Dickens's links with London, including Edwin Chadwick.