Charles Dickens is known to most of us primarily as one of the great 19th century novelists. His stories are familiar not just on the page but on the screen and the stage. He was in many ways a frustrated man of the theatre, writing his first of many plays when only ten (in 1822), a keen amateur actor and on terms of warm friendship with many leading actors, such as Macready.

In 1939 he was instrumental in founding what is now the Royal Theatrical Fund, the profession’s oldest charity, and was its first chairman. Its patron is HM The Queen and on 14 February, in Dickens’ bicentenary year, she will attend a special entertainment by Philip Franks in the City of London’s Guildhall.

The cast includes Derek Jacobi in the title role with Samantha Spiro as Queen Victoria, Samantha Bond, Stephanie Cole, Matthew Kelly, Eddie Redmayne and members of the Chickenshed Theatre Group. It’s preceded by a champagne reception; some tickets are still available from £75.00 each from the Fund. All profits, of course, go to help actors and members of associated professions in need of financial assistance.