"The famous author was commencing some kind of impromptu performance"
Dickens performing his work
Public DomainDickens performing his work

Dickens was an accomplished performer of his own work. As a young man he had considered becoming an actor, and performance came naturally to him. From the late 1850s he embarked upon a series of ambitious public tours, during which he acted out scenes from his work. His tours were hugely profitable – he earned £19,000 in one year from an American tour – and hugely popular – the Scotsman newspaper wrote:

Hear Dickens and die; you will never live to hear anything of its kind so good.

However the strain of the tours affected Dickens' health, and they are thought to have contributed to his early death.