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Charles Dickens - Author

About the Author

Charles Dickens was an English writer and social critic who is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and the creator of some of the world's most memorable fictional characters. During his lifetime Dickens's works enjoyed unprecedented popularity and fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was fully recognized by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to enjoy an enduring popularity among the general reading public.

Throughout 2012 there are numerous Dickens Events mark the bicentenary of his birth - www.dickens2012.org .


He was born Charles John Huffam Dickens on 7th February 1812, in Portsmouth, to John, a clerk at the Naval Pay Office, and Elizabeth Dickens. The good fortune of being sent to school at the age of nine was short-lived because his father, inspiration for the character of Mr Micawber in David Copperfield, was imprisoned for bad debt in the Marshalsea in 1824.

12 year old Charles was sent to work in Warren's boot-blacking factory, in Hungerford Market near The Strand, London.  Earning six shillings a week to help support the family, he endured appalling conditions as well as loneliness and despair. After three years he was returned to school, but the experience was never forgotten and became fictionalised in two of his better-known novels David Copperfield and Great Expectations.
This childhood poverty and feelings of abandonment, although unknown to his readers until after his death, would be a heavy influence on Dickens' later views on social reform and the world he would create through his fiction.

Like many others, he began his literary career as a journalist. His own father became a reporter and Charles began with the journals 'The Mirror of Parliament' and 'The True Sun'. Then in 1833 he became parliamentary journalist for The Morning Chronicle. With new contacts in the press he was able to publish a series of sketches under the pseudonym 'Boz'.

In April 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth who edited Sketches by Boz. Within the same month came the publication of the highly successful Pickwick Papers, and from that point on there was no looking back for Dickens.

Dickens would go on to write 15 major novels and countelss short stories and also a published autobiography. He edited weekly periodicals including 'Household Words' and 'All Year Round', wrote travel books and administered charitable organisations.

He was also a theatre enthusiast, wrote plays and performed before Queen Victoria in 1851. His energy was inexhaustible and he spent much time abroad - for example lecturing against slavery in the United States and touring Italy with companions Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins, a contemporary writer who inspired Dickens' final unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

He was estranged from his wife in 1858 after the birth of their ten children..
He died of a stroke on 9th June 1870. He wished to be buried, without fanfare, in a small cemetery in Rochester, but the Nation would not allow it. He was laid to rest in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, the flowers from thousands of mourners overflowing the open grave. Among the more beautiful bouquets were many simple clusters of wildflowers, wrapped in rags.

The Charles Dickens Museum can be found at 48 Doughty Street, London. Two of his daughters were born here, his sister-in-law Mary died aged 17 in an upstairs bedroom and some of Dickens’s best-loved novels were written here, including  Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.

Major Works of Charles Dickens

    Sketches by Boz (1836)
    Pickwick Papers (serialized monthly 1836-37)
    Oliver Twist (serialized monthly 1837-39)
    Nicholas Nickleby (serialized monthly 1838-39)
    The Old Curiosity Shop (serialized weekly 1840-41)
    Barnaby Rudge (serialized weekly 1841)
    Martin Chuzzlewit (serialized monthly 1843-44)
    Dombey and Son (serialized monthly 1846-48)
    David Copperfield (serialized monthly 1849-50)
    Bleak House (serialized monthly 1852-53)
    Hard Times (serialized weekly 1854)
    Little Dorrit (serialized monthly 1855-57)
    A Tale of Two Cities (serialized weekly 1859)
    Great Expectations (serialized weekly 1860-61)
    Our Mutual Friend (serialized monthly 1864-65)
    The Mystery of Edwin Drood - unfinished (serialized monthly 1870)

Featured books by Charles Dickens

Other books by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/01/2021

A set of 6 much-loved stories from classic English literature for children, brought together by Puffin Classics in beautiful paperback cover designs. The classic story of a young boy who seeks his fortune on the streets of London. After Oliver Twist asks nasty Mr Bumble for more food, he has to flee the workhouse for the streets of London. Here he meets the Artful Dodger, who leads him to Fagin and his gang of pickpockets. When a thieving mission goes wrong, Oliver narrowly avoids prison and finds himself in the care of kind Mr Brownlow. But Fagin and the brutal Bill Sikes go in search of the young orphan, determined to drag him back . . . In the same collection: PETER PAN THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND FIVE CHILDREN AND IT GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

Bleak House

Bleak House

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 09/12/2020

Richard Carstone and Ada Clare are wards of the court in the interminable case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which has gone on for so long that it has become a subject of mirth in legal circles and a source of great profit to those professionally engaged in it. The pair fall in love and marry, but the weak and feckless Richard slowly comes under the spell of the promised riches of the legal dispute. Jarndyce and Jarndyce has also drawn in a diverse array of other characters, from baronets to crossing-sweepers, as well as one of the novel's narrators, the moralistic Esther Summerson. Yet, while the lawsuit drags ever onwards, greater mysteries unfold, including murder, blackmail and love. Dominated by the oppressive force of Chancery, and considered by many to be both Dickens' greatest work and the finest novel of the Victorian age, Bleak House is a dark, complex and intricately plotted mystery that culminates in one of the great chases of the detective genre.

The Oxford Edition of Charles Dickens: Sketches by Boz

The Oxford Edition of Charles Dickens: Sketches by Boz

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/11/2020

Sketches by Boz, the first volume of the new Oxford Dickens, was also the title of Dickens's first book. It is a collection of sixty pieces, mostly humorous although there is nothing funny about 'A Visit to Newgate', which first appeared as contributions to magazines and newspapers in the mid 1830s. They are distinguished by his sharp and often satirical observation of social situations and London characters; but, with one exception, they are works of fiction. Fourteen can be described as short stories, but most are sketches presented to us as reportage. They show why Dickens was recognised as a brilliant new talent from the outset of his career. In the absence of any manuscripts, the text of each piece (with one exception) is based upon the first published version. They offer Dickens as he appeared to his very first readers in the mid 1830s, and as he has not been seen since. Dickens edited later editions, cutting contemporary references, oaths and sexual innuendo. The consequence of reading Dickens as he was is startling, for these pieces both offer a direct reflection of the social scene in London of the period, and have a raciness which Dickens excised from later printings. This work rediscovers the young Dickens.

Dickens at Christmas

Dickens at Christmas

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2020

A selection of the best of Dickens' Christmas stories and writings, in one beautiful edition. It is said that Charles Dickens invented Christmas, and within these pages you'll certainly find all the elements of a quintessential traditional Christmas brought to vivid life: snowy rooftops, gleaming shop windows, steaming bowls of punch, plum puddings like speckled cannon balls, sage and onion stuffing, miracles, magic, charity and goodwill. This beautifully produced Vintage Classics edition gathers together not only Dickens' Christmas Books ('A Christmas Carol', 'The Chimes', 'The Battle of Life', 'The Cricket on the Hearth' and 'The Haunted Man') but also stories that Dickens wrote for the special seasonal editions of his periodicals All the Year Round and Household Words, and a festive tale from The Pickwick Papers. A must-have for Christmas, this edition should be as necessary to your festivities as holly, mistletoe and silver bells.

Penguin Readers Level 6: Great Expectations (ELT Graded Reader)

Penguin Readers Level 6: Great Expectations (ELT Graded Reader)

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/11/2020

Penguin Readers is an ELT graded reader series for learners of English as a foreign language. With carefully adapted text, new illustrations and language learning exercises, the print edition also includes instructions to access supporting material online. Titles include popular classics, exciting contemporary fiction, and thought-provoking non-fiction, introducing language learners to bestselling authors and compelling content. The eight levels of Penguin Readers follow the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning (CEFR). Exercises at the back of each Reader help language learners to practise grammar, vocabulary, and key exam skills. Before, during and after-reading questions test readers' story comprehension and develop vocabulary. Visit the Penguin Readers website Exclusively with the print edition, readers can unlock online resources including a digital book, audio edition, lesson plans and answer keys. When the orphan Pip is taken to the house of Miss Havisham, he meets and falls in love with Estella. Estella is beautiful but cold and Pip decides that he will become rich so that he can marry her. Later he learns that somebody has given him a lot of money, but Pip does not know who this person is.

Macmillan Readers Our Mutual Friend Upper Intermediate Reader

Macmillan Readers Our Mutual Friend Upper Intermediate Reader

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/10/2020

John Harmon is a young man estranged from his family, yet on his way from South Africa to London to receive his inheritance. But, according to his father's will, he can only claim it if he marries Bella Wilfer, a beautiful London girl whom he has never met. Before John arrives to claim his birthright, an unknown body is found drowned in the Thames and identified as him. The money passes instead to family servants Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, who welcome into their home the disappointed bride-to-be. But when their associate Silas Wegg tries to blackmail the Boffins with an alternative will, Bella must decide where her loyalties lie.

Pictures from Italy

Pictures from Italy

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/10/2020

The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2020

Little Nell Trent's childhood is over. Her grandfather's mind is failing, his dark secret makes him sad and distracted, and he has nobody to care for him but Nell. The grotesque Daniel Quilp is out to cause trouble. What plans does he hatch with the dreadful Sampson and Sally Brass? What use can he hope to make of the foolish Dick Swiveller? Is Nell's one true friend, Kit, a match for Quilp's villainous mind? Nell and her grandfather must disappear or be separated forever, and so they begin their lives as beggars. When a mysterious gentleman arrives in London, determined to track them down, it becomes a race against time and against the evil of Quilp. Can Little Nell keep her grandfather safe? Who will protect Nell? Will the mysterious gentleman find them before it is too late?

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