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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)
A Christmas Carol is the most famous, heart-warming and chilling festive story of them all. In these pages we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is synonymous with greed and parsimony: 'Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart'. This attitude is soon challenged when the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is then visited in turn by three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, each one revealing the error of his ways and gradually melting the frozen heart of this old miser, leading him towards his redemption. On the journey we take with Scrooge we encounter a rich array of Dickensian characters including the poor Cratchit family with the ailing Tiny Tim and the generous and jolly Fezziwig. When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 he fashioned an enduring gift to the world, capturing the essence of the love, kindness and generosity of the Christmas season. It is a timeless classic and the story's uplifting magic remains as potent today as when it was first published.
Best-selling illustrator Quentin Blake brings fresh appeal to Charles Dickens’s classic Christmas story in this lovely edition. He captures the essence of the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge who would like to live without kindness, charity, love and especially Christmas which he hates particularly because it involves spending money. But everything changes for Scrooge when he is visited by a succession of ghosts who make him see the error of his ways. Now Christmas can come alive and Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed. The warmth of the newly found Mr Scrooge is especially delightfully captured by Quentin Blake. ~ Julia Eccleshare
“Bah!” said Scrooge. “Humbug. ” Christmas calls for a reading of A Christmas Carol! Charles Dickens’s story of mean old Ebenezer Scrooge who hates Christmas and refuses to celebrate or even allow others to celebrate. But then, one year, he is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley who warns Scrooge of the misery he is piling up in the future. Can Scrooge change his ways? And what will Christmas be like afterwards? Paired with the original illustrations by Arthur Rackham this is a gift edition for all ages.
Ebenezer Scrooge is famous for hating Christmas. He hates the celebration and the feasting, regarding it all as humbug! But then he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, as well as the ghost of Jacob Marley. Scrooge changes his tune and a glorious Christmas celebration follows. Dickens’s other stories about Christmas are also included in this volume.
Ebenezer Scrooge is famous for hating Christmas. He hates the celebration and the feasting regarding it all as humbug! But then he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come as well as the ghost of Jacob Marley. Scrooge changes his tune and a glorious Christmas celebration follows. Dickens’s other stories about Christmas are also included in this volume. (9+)
Best-selling illustrator Quentin Blake brings fresh appeal to Charles Dickens’s classic Christmas story in this lovely edition. He captures the essence of the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge who would like to live without kindness, charity, love and especially Christmas which he hates particularly because it involves spending money. But everything changes for Scrooge when he is visited by a succession of ghosts who make him see the error of his ways. Now Christmas can come alive and Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed. The warmth of the newly found Mr Scrooge is especially delightfully captured by Quentin Blake.
Well-produced for younger readers, this handsome and easy-to-read edition makes an excellent introduction to one of Charles Dickens’s best-loved novel. The story of Oliver, the boy who famously asked for “More” leading to his expulsion from the workhouse and subsequent life as a pickpocket in Fagin’s gang has been successfully adapted many times but it is worth returning to the original story to relish all of the detail. Just click here to view our range of Children’s Classics.
The Lovereading comment: This edition of The Christmas Carol is one of a range of marvellous comic books created in the '50s and '60s now with artwork re-coloured and covers digitally enhanced for a new generation. Perfect bound at a terrifically good value price. A message from the publisher: We're delighted to re-introduce these marvellous comic books to new generations of readers who will surely enjoy them as fantastic tales of adventure and excitement but will also improve their reading skills as a result and be inspired to read the complete versions of many of these fine works. I sincerely hope that you enjoy these superb adaptations and are similarly inspired as I was, nearly 50 years ago - Jeff Brooks, CEO, Classic Comic Store Ltd
“Bah!” “Humbug!” Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and he does his best to stop others enjoying it either. But then he gets a visit from three ghostly visitors – the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. The three ghosts reveal some truths to the mean old Scrooge which make him change his mind forever. P.J. Lynch’s atmospheric illustrations capture the dark and cold world of Scrooge’s meanness and juxtapose them with the jollity that is traditionally associated with Christmas.
All the action, bravery and romance of those living through the bloody drama of the French Revolution with the unflinching emblem of the guillotine always in the background are unfolded in Charles Dickens’s classic A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Darnay gets caught up in the great events of revolutionary Paris. Facing certain death, he has only one way out. Can Sydney Carton, who looks exactly like him, save him from the terrifying blade? Additional notes on the characters, an author profile and an Introduction by Roddy Doyle add an extra element in this classic edition. Just click here to view our range of Children’s Classics, then click on the Paperback tab to view all the Puffin Children’s Classics.
The classic tale of Oliver Twist brought to life in full colour. This beautiful version of Charles Dickens' tale of childhood in Victorian times will delight readers of all ages. From those who remember the original Classics Illustrated, to new readers - all will love this telling of the traditional tale. A message from the publisher: Classics Illustrated - A wonderful History - We're delighted to re-introduce these marvellous comic books to new generations of readers who will surely enjoy them as fantastic tales of adventure and excitement but will also improve their reading skills as a result and be inspired to read the complete versions of many of these fine works. I sincerely hope that you enjoy these superb adaptations and are similarly inspired as I was, nearly 50 years ago. Jeff Brooks, CEO, Classic Comic Store Ltd
The original Christmas tale is brought to life in this colourful graphic novel adaptation. It is the second Charles Dickens title from Classical Comics and probably his best-loved story. Set in Victorian England and highlighting the social injustice of the time we see one Ebenezer Scrooge go from oppressor to benefactor when he gets a rude awakening to how his life is, and how it should be. This is the original text of the classic novel but brought to life in full colour. If you would prefer to read a modern quick text of A Christmas Carol then click here.
This is the full story in quick modern English for a fast-paced read. The original Christmas tale is brought to life in this colourful graphic novel adaptation. It is the second Charles Dickens title from Classical Comics and probably his best-loved story. Set in Victorian England and highlighting the social injustice of the time we see one Ebenezer Scrooge go from oppressor to benefactor when he gets a rude awakening to how his life is, and how it should be. If you'd prefer to read this classic novel in the original text then click here.
A favourite of Michael Morpurgo: "The first few pages were so engaging, Marley's ghostly face on the knocker of Scrooge's door still gives me the shivers." This gorgeous and sumptuously illustrated new edition of the completely unabridged A Christmas Carol is an absolute dream of a gift. The illustrations are by the award-winning artist Robert Ingpen who has successfully captured the atmosphere of Victorian London and brings to life the unforgettable characters that Dickens created. In addition, Dickens' short story A Christmas Tree is included at the end of the book. Julia Eccleshare's comment: Christmas: everyone loves Christmas except for Ebenezer Scrooge whose name has become synonymous with a miserly outlook on life. Hating Christmas as usual and doing all he can to spoil everyone else’s fun, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts one year and between them they make him change his ways…The result is one of the most wonderful accounts of the fun and feasting that Christmas can bring. If you're looking for other timeless classics illustrated by Robert Ingpen then look no further than The Jungle Book.
Christmas: everyone loves Christmas except for Ebenezer Scrooge whose name has become synonymous with a miserly outlook on life. Hating Christmas as usual and doing all he can to spoil everyone else’s fun, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts one year and between them they make him change his ways…The result is one of the most wonderful accounts of the fun and feasting that Christmas can bring. Anthony Horowitz regards A Christmas Carol as a perfect introduction to Dickens. From Michael Morpurgo: "The first few pages were so engaging, Marley's ghostly face on the knocker of Scrooge's door still gives me the shivers."
Chosen by Michael Morpurgo. As famous lines go in literature, ‘Please sir, I want some more’ is one that not many children are unaware of but have they read the book from which it came? If not, then Oliver Twist, the book is here. A den of villains and thieves awaits the reader determined to drag Oliver back to his life of crime on the streets of London but can Oliver’s native honesty, strength and goodness enable him to resist? Garth Nix has written a terrific Introduction in this Puffin Classics edition. He says, ‘I first read Oliver twist when I was about 12 or 13...the story is so good that you can skim along the surface and enjoy the ride – you don’t have to dip beneath and get into the deeper stuff that lies below...or you can read it more deeply and experience the adventure and at the same time absorb the historical detail and social criticism that is the foundation of the story’. In this terrific pocket size Puffin edition there’s lots of additional material at the end of the book including an author profile, a guide to who’s who in Oliver Twist plus many related activities to do beyond the book.
History is boring? Well think again. This piece of history and literature by Charles Dickens provides a fast-paced, relevant, exciting history with witty observations and compelling narrative, which will capture a child’s (and parents) imagination. It’s an absolutely fascinating treasure trove to delve in to. This spectacular new edition has been carefully edited and lightly abridged to ensure that children in the 21st century will gain as much and more from it than those who read it 150 years before.
Originally published well over 150 years ago this classic from Charles Dickens remains as important in the world of children’s literature as ever. It has captured the hearts and minds of children everywhere over generations and this marvellous new edition complete with some glorious illustrations by P J Lynch brings London and its habitants to life with breathtaking immediacy. This edition comes complete with four stunning free art prints.
October 2011 Guest Editor Roddy Doyle: A small boy called Pip is in a graveyard just as it’s getting dark. He’s looking at the grave where his parents and five brothers are buried. An escaped convict jumps out from behind a grave and grabs him. It’s the best start to a novel ever, and the rest of the book lives up to its start. I’ve always loved Dickens. I read him when I was 9, and I’m reading him today.
Coketown is dominated by the figure of Mr Thomas Gradgrind, school headmaster and model of Utilitarian success. Feeding both his pupils and family with facts, he bans fancy and wonder from any young minds. As a consequence, his obedient daughter Louisa marries the loveless businessman and 'bully of humanity' Mr Bounderby.
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. David Copperfield lives happily with his mother and his nurse, Peggotty. Then his mother marries Mr Murdstone, and he and his sister come to live with them. Suddenly everything changes . .
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.