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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

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: 10/11/2020

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.

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.

A Christmas Carol The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

A Christmas Carol The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/2020

Includes QR codes to the free audiobooks Engaging illustrations throughout that bring the stories to life Adapted to help readers enjoy and learn the classic story before approaching the original texts Series includes family favourites including Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol An easy-to-read format to bring the works of Charles Dickens to a whole new generation

Dickens on Railways A Great Novelist's Travels by Train

Dickens on Railways A Great Novelist's Travels by Train

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/10/2020

In the mid-nineteenth century, the great age of railway building, Charles Dickens could not but be aware of their transformative impact on society. So he wrote about it - to a remarkable extent. He wrote a classic ghost story, 'The Signalman'; in Dombey and Son about what is now the West Coast Main Line being carved through north London in great ravines. He wrote satirical pieces about railway catering - even back then; about the wonder of express train travel to the Channel ports; travel pieces about exploring America by train - and about being personally involved in the notorious Staplehurst train crash in Kent. Now, in the year of Dickens' 150th anniversary, Tony Williams, a distinguished Dickens scholar, collects all these railway writings into a handsome little volume ideal for a long train journey...

Little Dorrit The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

Little Dorrit The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/10/2020

Includes QR codes to the free audiobooks Engaging illustrations throughout that bring the stories to life Adapted to help readers enjoy and learn the classic story before approaching the original texts Series includes family favourites including Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol An easy-to-read format to bring the works of Charles Dickens to a whole new generation

The Old Curiosity Shop The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

The Old Curiosity Shop The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/10/2020

Includes QR codes to the free audiobooks Engaging illustrations throughout that bring the stories to life Adapted to help readers enjoy and learn the classic story before approaching the original texts Series includes family favourites including Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol An easy-to-read format to bring the works of Charles Dickens to a whole new generation

Great Expectations The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

Great Expectations The Charles Dickens Children's Collection (Easy Classics)

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/10/2020

Includes QR codes to the free audiobooks Engaging illustrations throughout that bring the stories to life Adapted to help readers enjoy and learn the classic story before approaching the original texts Series includes family favourites including Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol An easy-to-read format to bring the works of Charles Dickens to a whole new generation

The Charles Dickens Children's Collection

The Charles Dickens Children's Collection

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Mixed media product Release Date: 01/10/2020

Includes QR codes to the free audiobooks Engaging illustrations throughout that bring the stories to life Adapted to help readers enjoy and learn the classic story before approaching the original texts Series includes family favourites including Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol An easy-to-read format to bring the works of Charles Dickens to a whole new generation

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