February 7, will mark the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens. England is not waiting for the exact date to start celebrating. A new three-part BBC production of "Great Expectations," with Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham, was broadcast over the Christmas holiday; a new film version, starring Helena Bonham Carter, is scheduled for release next fall.
Those who yearn for old versions of films based on Dickens can find them in a special retrospective at the British Film Institute in London. There was also a five-part radio serialization of "A Tale of Two Cities" recently.
The British Library is featuring an exhibition (closing on March 4 ) that focuses on Dickens' fondness for the supernatural. Also, portraits of the writer, who died at 58 in 1870, are on view at the National Portrait Gallery. Homages of various kinds to Dickens will be presented at theaters, museums and in Portsmouth, where he was born.
The author, who was also a journalist and an actor, wrote works that remind us that not all that much has changed in class-ridden England, even if the Industrial Revolution happened long ago.