Charles Dickens

Playwright, Author

1812 – 1870

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Who was Charles Dickens?

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors' prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wife's chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments. Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence Ikey Solomon; His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes. In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life – Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from 'Looney', a beadle at Salisbury Square. His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha'pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.

Famous Quotes:

  • I feel an earnest and humble desire, and shall till I die, to increase the stock of harmless cheerfulness.
  • It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away.
  • This is a world of action, and not for moping and droning in.
  • If its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed, it always is depressed, and always is stagnated, and always is at an alarming crisis, and never was otherwise; though as a body, they are ready to make oath upon the Evangelists, at any hour of the day or night, that it is the most thriving and prosperous of all countries on the habitable globe.
  • God bless us every one! said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
  • Many merry Christmases, friendships, great accumulation of cheerful recollections, affection on earth, and Heaven at last for all of us.
  • Here's the rule for bargains: Do other men, for they would do you. That's the true business precept.
  • Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.
  • Its very strange, said Mr. Dick that I never can get that quite right; I never can make that perfectly clear.
  • Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families; and in families not regulated by that pervading influence which sanctifies while it enhances... in short, by the influence of Woman, in the lofty character of Wife, they may be expected with confidence, and must be borne with philosophy.

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Born
Feb 7, 1812
Landport
Also known as
  • Boz
  • Charles John Huffam Dickens
  • Dickens
  • Dickens Charles
  • C. Dickens
  • Charles John Huffham Dickens
  • Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
Children
Religion
  • Anglicanism
Ethnicity
  • English people
Nationality
  • England
Profession
Employment
  • Morning Chronicle
    (1827 - )
Lived in
  • Portsmouth
  • London
Died
Jun 9, 1870
Gads Hill Place
Resting place
Westminster Abbey

Submitted
on July 23, 2013