Charles Dickens on Cricket

Published: 2004
Pages: 24
Author: Goulstone, John
Publisher: Private
Rating: 3 stars

Almost thirty five years after Irving Rosenwater’s look at Charles Dickens in a cricketing context John Goulstone trod a similar path. The titles of the two monographs are almost identical, but there are not too many other similarities.

One thing both writers do have in common is their diligence as researchers. Rosenwater, sadly, left us in 2006 but Goulstone, a man of not dissimilar vintage, is still with us and well over eighty years of age and, as recently as 2019, treated us to a fascinating study of the game in Brighton in the 18th century.

As self-publishers the pair are very different. Goulstone’s monograph on Dickens is much like many of his others, strictly utilitarian with no time or energy being expended on design. Rosenwater on the other hand took immense pride in the presentation of his limited editions, and justifiably so.

The writing styles of the two men is very different too. Whilst Rosenwater is no Cardus he writes very well indeed. Lest it be thought I am suggesting otherwise I hasten to add that I have no complaints about the way Goulstone writes, but his aim is to share his research with his readers rather than entertain them – his is strictly no frills stuff.

And the content? There is much less about Dickens the man in the Goulstone than the Rosenwater. There is also a good deal of quoting from the Dickens’ work and indeed there is much on the All Muggleton v Dingley Dell fixture, so much so that I no longer need to invest in a copy of The Pickwick Papers.

At first blush it is impossible to disagree with Dickens’ critics, as some of the scenarios described in The Pickwick Papers are rather less than realistic, as Goulstone points out. But ultimately, if less flamboyantly, Goulstone expresses the same overall view as Rosenwater.

So Charles Dickens on Cricket is, like Rosenwater’s effort, a decent read, albeit it is even harder to get hold of, and only marginally less expensive – there are only fifteen copies of this one, so if you are interested I wish you luck in tracking one down!

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