How Charles Dickens altered Christmas

If you want to learn about how the 1843 publication of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol forever changed the celebration of Christmas, the Hadley Memorial Fund is promising to provide that information and more on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m.

Dr. Elliott Engel
Professor Elliott Engel will discuss Charles Dickens and Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m. in Kennett Square.

Using biography, anecdotes, analysis, and large doses of humor, Professor Elliot Engel, an award-winning teacher and author, will chronicle the popularity of this famous Christmas story and the marketing genius of its remarkable author. The proceeds of a subsequent book-signing will benefit the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, which Dickens helped found in 1852.

The presentation, entitled “Charles Dickens and Christmas with Elliot Engel,” will be held at the Kennett Friends Meeting, 125 Sickle St., Kennett Square, 19348. It is one of the annual programs made possible by the legacy of a benevolent area family. Tickets are free but must be requested.

Engel, who lives in lives Raleigh, N.C., has taught at the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, Duke University, and UCLA. Since 1980, he has been president of the Dickens Fellowship of North Carolina, the largest branch of this worldwide network of clubs. His mini-lecture series on Charles Dickens ran on PBS television stations around the country. He was inducted into the Royal Society of Arts in England for his 30 years of academic work and service in promoting Charles Dickens.

The Hadley Memorial Fund was established by Charles C. Hadley in his 1916 will, and then augmented by his sister, Irene Hadley Baird, to honor their parents, Theodore D. and Elizabeth A. Hadley. In addition to providing free admission, the programs aim to further the civic betterment, social welfare and education of the people of Kennett Square and the surrounding area.

Under the terms of Hadley’s will, the Kennett Friends Meeting and the Philadelphia Ethical Society select the offerings, which have run the gamut from entertainment to politics. For the first program in 1962, Hal Holbrook presented “A Night with Mark Twain” at Kennett High School.

Hadley has also hosted performers such as Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn and speakers that have included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Linus Pauling. Musical offerings have ranged from Marian Anderson to Andres Segovia, and among the politicians and authors who have taken the stage are Edmund Muskie, Shirley Chisholm, Norman Cousins, Art Buchwald and Ogden Nash.

More recently, Hadley seasons have included lectures by Jerrold Post on terrorism, Linda Ales on photography, Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele on health policies, Douglas Tallamy on gardens and insects, and Paul Waldau on law and animals. Musical programs have included Hanchien Lee, Melomanie, and A Capella Pops, and performances have showcased Mum Puppettheatre, the DK BMX Bike Stunt Show, and storyteller Willy Claflin.

To learn more about the Hadley Memorial Fund or to request the required tickets, go to For more information on Engel, visit

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