Peter Davison on Orwell & "Dickens – first and last"

In London ‘there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money’. In this situation he assesses Dickens quite differently: ‘it is always fairly easy to sell Dickens, just as it is always easy to sell Shakespeare. Dickens is one of those authors who people are “always meaning to” read, and, like the Bible, he is widely known at second hand’.