Disappearing acts

Disappearing acts | Centre for Studies in Literature, University of Portsmouth

Dickensian disappearances

Charles Dickens: novelist, social reformer, journalist… and conjuror? Dickens, a keen watcher of magic, gave a number of magic performances in the 1840s at Christmas and during summers on the Isle of Wight. This event, a blend of talk and performance, uses the unique setting of the Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth to discover Dickens’ involvement in the world of magic. Dr Christopher Pittard explores Dickens’ engagement with famous conjurors, the influence of magic on his fiction, and goes behind the scenes of his performances to reveal the secrets of Victorian sleight of hand.

The lost of Portsmouth and Sussex

Join us at Portsmouth’s oldest and reputedly most haunted house, Wymering Manor, for three interactive tales of the lost and found of Portsmouth and Sussex presented by Karen Fielder, Debbie Parker-Kinch, and Rosie Paice. These stories – of a pair of missing Portsmouth children of the 1920s, of the inherent lost things that inhabit historic places such as Wymering, and the life of a forgotten Victorian poet, Bessie Parkes Belloc – spark off each other to create uncanny echoes in a ghostly space. This event is a must for anyone interested in cultural, literary, and architectural history, and the ways in which stories haunt places.

Missing children found: a creative workshop

This creative writing workshop at Wymering Manor expands on one of the stories from The Lost of Portsmouth and Sussex. On 15 February 1925, two children ran away from their home in Southsea with a cake, a saucepan, and the works of Shakespeare. They were found less than two days later, no worse for wear. What were their motivations? How did parents and locals respond? Why did the incident hit the papers in Aberdeen and Dundee? Hosted by Rosie Paice and Alison Habens of the University of Portsmouth, participants will be provided with contemporary newspaper reports of the incident to help tease out the various perspectives and possibilities in their writing.