The History Behind A MATTER OF TIME
A Matter of Time: Coming in December, but available now for pre-order for your Kindle.
The historical setting of A Matter of Time, book IV in my Rewinding Time Series, is Lebanon, a very small town in St. Clair County in
southern Illinois. Its claim to fame—other than McKendree University, the oldest college in the state—is that on April 12, 1842, Charles Dickens visited Lebanon during his grand tour of America. He didn’t have much to say about it in his travelogue American Notes. He probably put the place and the people he met there out of his mind as soon as he headed back east and on home to England.
But Lebanon sure did not forget him. One hundred seventy-three years later there are still allusions to Dickens everywhere, especially during their annual Victorian Holiday Festival, during which people dress in period clothes and stroll the streets. You’ll even see Dickens himself, identifiable by the thick book he carries. The local actors’ guild performs A Christmas Carol at the Looking Glass Playhouse every December.
The most obvious allusion to Dickens is the Mermaid Inn where the author, his traveling secretary, and twelve St. Louis businessmen traveling with him spent the night. The building is well-cared for the Lebanon Historical Society, which gives tours by appointment. (Tell Len Adams I sent you.)
Dickens loved all the adulation he received throughout his sojourn in America. I’m sure he would be thrilled to know of Lebanon’s continued interest in him.
As I write this, I’m half-way through the first draft of A Matter of Time, but I thought you might like to know some of the cool things I learned during my research, like why on earth Dickens chose to visit Lebanon, Illinois of all places. I read several biographies about Dickens and one about his wife. I read as many accounts of his visit as I could find. I read Dickens’ American Notes and parts of Martin Chuzzlewit, the very thick, mostly forgotten, novel he wrote upon his return from America. In the coming days, I’ll be passing along just a bit of what these sources had to say. (Just think of the time savings for you!) So stay tuned to this station.It would be so nice of you to share!