March 2022: "Night Walks" by Charles Dickens

March 27 at 1:00-3:00 PM (PDT) | Virtual Event

For its next meeting, the Santa Cruz Pickwick Club will read Dickens’s short, semi-autobiographical essay, “Night Walks.” Professor John Jordan will lead the discussion. Originally published in 1860 in Dickens’s weekly magazine All the Year Round, the essay is a good example of Dickens’s work as a journalist, social activist, and observer of the modern metropolis. It is also a powerful piece of writing in its own right.

In “Night Walks,” Dickens assumes the identity of a man who suffers from insomnia and whose remedy for this affliction is to walk at night through the streets of the city until dawn before returning home exhausted to fall asleep. The essay describes the people he encounters and the places he sees on these walks. 

A nocturnal walking tour through the heart of London, “Night Walks” engages our sympathies and enlarges our social vision. It invites the reader to look at familiar places with fresh eyes, to see people who might otherwise remain invisible, and to imagine what we may have in common with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Short, accessible, and highly relevant to social problems still facing us today, “Night Walks” for these reasons may interest schoolteachers in particular as a useful text for introducing Dickens to their students.

The Dickens Project has produced an electronic version of this essay. A link to this edition is included below. Only a dozen or so pages long, the essay comes with notes, a map of London indicating principal landmarks mentioned in the essay, and a brief introduction by Professor Jordan.



Recommended Edition: Click here to download a PDF of the Dickens Project's edition of this essay.

The Santa Cruz Pickwick (Book) Club, a branch of the Dickens Fellowship, is a community of local bookworms, students, and teachers who meet monthly to discuss a nineteenth-century novel. The Santa Cruz Public Libraries provide support for the reading group.