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Letter from the editor: Great Expectations

The BBC is expected to begin filming the opening scenes of its adaptation of Great Expectations today, on the marshlands of Tollesbury, near Maldon (where the salt comes from).

If you’re in north-east Essex during the next three weeks, especially if you’re visiting the RSPB nature reserve at Old Hall Marshes, keep your eyes peeled. As well as spotting migrating waders or dragonflies, you may catch sight of young Pip as he has his first terrifying encounter with the convict Abel Magwitch.

The series, which stars Gillian Anderson, Ray Winstone and David Suchet, will be shown next year as part of the Beeb’s 2012 celebration of the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth.

I didn’t have to read Dickens at school and perhaps because of that, I love his books. When it comes to providing a good holiday read – something in which you can completely immerse yourself – he’s unbeatable.

Great Expectations, with its central theme of snobbery and false values versus loyalty and ties of friendship and affection, is one of my favourites.

If you’re not near north-east Essex, but you are also a Dickens fan, you may be interested in getting involved in a project being run by Buckingham University. Called Dickens Journals Online, the aim is to create, by March 2012, a complete online edition of Dickens’ weekly magazines, Household Words and All the Year Round. In their day, these were incredibly popular, weekly journals, which not only carried instalments of novels such as Great Expectations and Hard Times, but also journalism and political comment.

The project is rather short of proof-readers, however, and is appealing for help. I know i readers not only love literature, but are sharp-eyed, too. If you want to find out more, go to www.djo.org.uk

Stefano Hatfield is away

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