Cartoonist Mac provides inspiration for Charles Dickens competition hopefuls

Writers entering a competition to find the colourful characters of today who could have inspired Charles Dickens have been given some inspiration of their own by a leading cartoonist.

Hopefuls have been tasked with bringing to life a modern-day Dickens character in no more than 300 words.

The competition marks 150 years since the great writer’s death and is organised by the Journalists’ Charity, which Dickens helped found.

Charles Dickens exhibition
An undated Charles Dickens Museum handout image of a portrait of Charles Dickens.

For her entry, Annie White, from Torquay, Devon, created Mattie Merrywinkle, an NHS volunteer delivering prescriptions on her bike amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Veteran Fleet Street cartoonist Stanley McMurtry, also known as Mac, has brought the character to life, with a colourful sketch showing Ms Merrywinkle in her yellow coat zipping along with a basket full of medicines.

A delighted Ms White was stunned by the drawing and said: “I am completely overwhelmed by Mac’s depiction. He must be psychic – this is exactly how I envisaged Miss Mattie Merrywinkle, bless her.”

The competition, launched by the Journalists’ Charity with the support of the Dickens Fellowship, is open to all and free to enter, although organisers have encouraged entrants and supporters to donate to the charity.

MAC Cartoon
Fleet Street cartoonist Mac brought to life an early entry in a Charles Dickens-inspired writing competition (Stanley McMurtry/PA)

It is open until June 9. The winner will get their entry brought to life by Mac.

Dr Cindy Sughrue, director of the Dickens Museum, said: “As we navigate our way through the Covid-19 pandemic, there are so many people who would have caught Dickens’s imagination – from the unnamed neighbour spending her day delivering groceries, to Captain Tom Moore who has become a household name worldwide for his phenomenal fundraising for the NHS.”

Full rules and examples can be found at journalistscharity.org.uk

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