For Dickens, the essence of childhood wonder was epitomized by the Christmas pantomime. He repeatedly expressed his enthusiasm for this form of popular entertainment, and its central protagonist the clown, in a number of his nonfictional works. For example, in “A Curious Dance Round a Curious Tree” (1852), pantomime is characterised as “that jocund world …, where there is no affliction or calamity that leaves the least impression,” while in “First Fruits” (also 1852), he gleefully reminisces about “the first play” he attended as a child, at which he saw “the funny man (there never was such a funny man) in a red scratch wig, who, when imprisoned in the deepest dungeon beneath the castle moat, sang a comic song about a leg of mutton.”1