It's Charles Dickens' 200th birthday today. Apparently they are making almost as big a deal of in England as they are over the Queen. I've never been a huge Dickens fan myself (and in fairness, I've read only about half the Dickens canon so I might have missed something wonderful): too much Victorian sentimentalism, especially about women--that last a topic on which he seems to me just awful. Still, I will have to grant his fecundity and his felicity at generating a certain kind of memorable cartoon.
But Michael Quinion points to something that I'd missed before: Dickens as a wordsmith, a coiner of words. Not, perhaps, on a plane with Shakespeare. And not, perhaps on a plane with himself, or at any rate his former self as admiringly characterized as his Victorian admirers. Still, Michael gives him credit for "butter-fingers, unpromisingly, sawbones, messiness, spiflication, whizz-bang and seediness." Quite enough for a day's work. BTW, if you don't read Michael's excellent weekly words newsletter, you're missing a treat.
Update: Buce's friend Bruce points out that it is also the anniversary of the Beatle's first American tour. He asks: "which has had more lasting cultural influence?" The question is perhaps intended to be rhetorical but I am not sure the answer is obvious. No doubt that the Beatles are more vivid in our consciousness but Dickens may just be more closely woven into the woof. Maybe (as Bruce graciously observes, echoing Chou En-lai about the French Revolution) it is just too soon to tell.