Did English Writer Charles Dickens Live in the Bulgarian Coastal City of Bourgas?
Flagman - In 2012, the group of municipal councilors of NFSB in Bourgas submitted a report requesting that the English writer Charles Dickens be declared an honorary citizen. The reason - they had historical data that he lived and worked in Burgas for two years. What the patriots referred to was that they were using the study of the local historian Stoyan Raichevski. Their proposal in 2012 was rejected, but in the next two years, until the end of the last parliamentary term, this report ran between the office and the meeting room without any success in its passing. But the famous name of Charles Dickens was great for the media that still added something to the top and reported the news several times.
At one point the two-year stay of Dickens near the Burgas shore even appeared in the respected state BTA.
According to the authoritative news agency, "Dickens is the first Western journalist to write about the seaside city and is the author of a travel book titled "Information about Bourgas by Charles Dickens".
There is very little known about this part of the writer's life. Only Stoyan Raichevski wrote in his book "Old Burgas". In England, there are also very sources of the writer's life and experiences in Burgas. "
How true are these statements? We ask because enthusiasts came up with an idea to name a Dickens street, put a memorial plaque on an older building by the harbor, and make the city more attractive to the people interested of culture and history.
One of the main streets in Bourgas, late 1870s
Here is the opinion of Mitko Ivanov, historian:
Charles Dickens came to Burgas and lived here. Is that correct?
The text of my respected colleague, co-author and researcher Stoyan Raichevski is quoted. Both statements are untrue and I have good arguments. Firstly, Stoyan Raichevsky personally told me that he did not write such a thing and never even thought about doing it.
Could Stoyan Raichevski be misunderstood?
If we have to be honest when I read the text in Stoyan Raychevski's book "Old Bourgas", I saw a passage from which two ambiguities can be obtained. The author himself says that the excerpt about Bourgas, probably from a Dickens reporter, is written in the works of the great English author and social critic. If a person is in a hurry to read and is more superficial, it is quite possible to make a wrong conclusion about the essence of the text. Still, if it is in Dickens' writings, the author has come to Bourgas and therefore lived here. This is not correct, the fact that the Englishman has lived in Bourgas is absurd, especially for 2 or 3 years.
Where does the myth of the high presence come from during 1853-1855?
It comes from the fact that the statement is not exactly dated. It was recorded as "1853-1855", but it was actually printed in the Domashni slova newspaper in January 1854. According to the communications and the speed of transport, we can safely assume that Dickens reporter was here probably in the autumn or early winter in 1853.
Why is Dickens sending a reporter here?
The reason is easy to explain. At that time, the English as well as the French Squadron often landed in the Bourgas Bay in connection with the already active Crimean War - one of the most famous conflicts of the 19th century. Bourgas was on the world map for quite a long time. This is precisely why the famous English writer sent his reporter. Based on this, we can disprove two misunderstandings. First of all, that Stoyan Raichevsky wrote something like this - it's totally false. And secondly, that Charles Dickens was in Bourgas and even lived here. That absolutely is not said anywhere. His biography has been literally studied day by day - he had a diary. Nowhere is there any evidence that he even set foot on the territory of present-day Bulgaria.
The Bourgas Port, 1854
What is the reporter saying about the military events in Burgas?
It is not indicated anywhere. What fills misunderstandings in historiography in general? Each of the millions of misunderstandings comes from ambiguities. The lack of clarity in the source. When the source is too laconic or used in another context, sometimes the researcher is tempted for one reason or another to write additional report. That is, in the source, something is implied without it being quite clear, and hence the interpretations begin. The case with Charles Dickens and Burgas is, I think, exactly the same. There is no mention of Charles Dickens sending a reporter, or the reporter's name, but it is implied from the context.
Who was first to publish this source?
The first scientific publication is of the late Professor Velko Tonev. He is a famous person in Bulgaria and I dare say that there is no historian who has not heard of him. In his preface, he also says that Charles Dickens sends his reporter without going into details about who the reporter is.
Yet the very fact that Dickens sends his reporter here, about 2500 km from his homeland, says a lot.
I personally do not know of another world-famous person who has sent their representative to Bourgas to make a report. There were some relatively known figures, such as the 18th-century French consul on the Black Sea coast, Austrian scouts, and so on. But these people are not world-famous. They are clerks sent here by the Great Powers to explore the area that becomes interesting to them right after Russia is settling on the Black Sea.
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