This is a big departure from the normal RP British presentation, but I think it brings the stories to life in a new, wonderful way.
I am recording these in conjunction with Spoken Realms and they will be available on various audiobook sites.
Our first book is A Christmas Carol and is Out Now!
Why record these so differently?
Don't get me wrong, there are some wonderful portrayals of the incredible stories by good old Charles, but when I was reading an excerpt from Oliver for something unrelated, it struck me that in the writing it was not just the characters that were often from the poorer, darker corners of Dickens's London, but it was the storyteller himself.
Dickens was born in Portsmouth but grew up in Chatham in Kent. The family were ordinary middle class, his father was a clerk, but when Dickens was 12, his father went to debtor's prison together with his wife and youngest children. Charles boarded with a family friend in Camden Town and ended up leaving school and working in a factory.
The way Dickens is often portrayed is as a posh-spoken, pompous man, a great raconteur with a big loud voice. This well may be true, it is hard to tell since we have no recordings of him, but I am unsure whether it is always right to give the narrator in a book the same vocalisation as the author.
When we write, we narrate with our inner voice often, and I think Dickens voice was more the young lad who worked in a factory, became an author and editor despite a woeful lack of education and had some very progressive views on the world.
In consequence, I decided I wanted to try to bring the narrator in the stories down to the level of many of the characters like Bill Sykes, Fagin and even Scrooge himself, who was no well-spoken man, but a brute of the city.
And guess what? The words of Dickens fit that kind of portrayal perfectly. Indeed, I think they fit a North London or East End accent better than they do BBC RP. It becomes more passionate, as Dickens was himself, more robust, harder hitting in places, often angrier, but generous too.
Some of you, especially those not from the UK, may find the accent hard work at times, but don't worry about it.
Sit back and let it wash over you, and even if you do not get every word, or even understand some of the obscure language and grammar construction Dickens so loves, it won't matter. It is the feel and the breath of the times and the story will come through.