As most of you know, for many years I was a historical reenactor, playing characters in both Tudor-era and Victorian England. I could tell you my family history, back several generations. I had some fabulous dialect coaches (RIP, Kage Baker and Martin Harris). I understood and wore the clothing from both periods — it was never a costume, as it needed to be sturdy and useful attire. I made friends who became a family of choice. I met my second husband through the hobby.
My health situation, about which I have written many times, has precluded me from being an active participant for many years, although I have been an enthusiastic patron. I held the release celebration for my first novel at an event.
Now, things that went on in other groups are coming to light. Things that never would have been tolerated in the group I fell into purely by chance and stayed with by choice. And so, I find myself in the position of sharing something I wrote on Facebook once again:
“It was the best of times, It was the worst of times: Goodbye to Dickens”
I first came to work at Dickens Fair in 1988. I worked at Leggett’s London Tours/Rose & Stag. I made life-long friends over the years, and have many treasured memories of my time at Dickens Fair — including a celebration of my first novel’s release.
In the ensuing years, my health situation has become such that I am no longer able to be an active participant. I have, however, been a patron.
Not anymore. Much as I left Romance Writers of America due to their failure to deal with the racism and misogyny in their ranks, I am choosing to do the same with Dickens Fair. I cannot in good conscience give my precious leisure time and discretionary funds to this show unless and until they resolve these matters
This saddens me; I have several favorite vendors whose work I only see during Dickens, and whom I enjoy supporting. Sadly, I must make different choices now.
I am not walking away from the Dickens Fair community, I am choosing to not participate in the show. My choice to remove myself from The Great Dickens Christmas Fair does not mean I am giving up the fight. Should Dickens Fair leadership address the needs of your marginalized cast members, perhaps I shall return to London.
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of accountability.”
(Photograph of my husband and me during my book release party, taken by Vivien Lee)