Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Overview
Charles John Huffam Dickens (icon; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic novels and characters.

Many of his writings were originally published serially
Serial (literature)
In literature, a serial is a publishing format by which a single large work, most often a work of narrative fiction, is presented in contiguous installments—also known as numbers, parts, or fascicles—either issued as separate publications or appearing in sequential issues of a single periodical...

, in monthly instalments or parts, a format of publication which Dickens himself helped popularise at that time.
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Encyclopedia
Charles John Huffam Dickens (icon; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic novels and characters.

Many of his writings were originally published serially
Serial (literature)
In literature, a serial is a publishing format by which a single large work, most often a work of narrative fiction, is presented in contiguous installments—also known as numbers, parts, or fascicles—either issued as separate publications or appearing in sequential issues of a single periodical...

, in monthly instalments or parts, a format of publication which Dickens himself helped popularise at that time. Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialised. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next instalment. The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print
Out-of-print book
An out-of-print book is a book that is no longer being published. Out-of-print books are often rare, and may be difficult to acquire.A publisher will usually create a print run of a fixed number of copies of a new book. These books can be ordered in bulk by booksellers, and when all the...

.

Dickens' work has been highly praised for its realism
Realism
Realism, Realist or Realistic are terms that describe any manifestation of philosophical realism, the belief that reality exists independently of observers, whether in philosophy itself or in the applied arts and sciences. In this broad sense it is frequently contrasted with Idealism.Realism in the...

, comedy, mastery of prose, unique personalities and concern for social reform
Reform movement
A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes...

 by writers such as Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

, George Gissing
George Gissing
George Robert Gissing was an English novelist who published twenty-three novels between 1880 and 1903. From his early naturalistic works, he developed into one of the most accomplished realists of the late-Victorian era.-Early life:...

 and G.K. Chesterton; though others, such as Henry James
Henry James
Henry James, OM was an American-born writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr., a clergyman, and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James....

 and Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

, have criticised it for sentimentality and implausibility.

Early years



Charles Dickens was born at Landport, in Portsea, on February 7, 1812, the second of eight children, to John
John Dickens
John Dickens was the father of English novelist Charles Dickens and was the model for Mr Micawber in his son's semi-autobiographical novel David Copperfield.-Biography:...

 and Elizabeth Dickens
Elizabeth Dickens
Elizabeth Culliford Dickens was the wife of John Dickens and the mother of English novelist Charles Dickens. She was the source for Mrs...

. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay-office and was temporarily on duty in the neighbourhood. Very soon after the birth of Charles, however, the family moved for a short period to Norfolk Street, Bloomsbury, and then for a long period to Chatham, in Kent, which thus became the real childhood home, and for all serious purposes, the native place of Dickens. His early years seem to have been idyllic, although he thought himself a "very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of boy". Charles spent time outdoors, but also read voraciously, especially the picaresque novel
Picaresque novel
The picaresque novel is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which is usually satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society...

s of Tobias Smollett
Tobias Smollett
Tobias George Smollett was a Scottish poet and author. He was best known for his picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle , which influenced later novelists such as Charles Dickens.-Life:Smollett was born at Dalquhurn, now part of Renton,...

 and Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding was an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones....

. He spoke, later in life, of his poignant memories of childhood, and of his near-photographic memory of the people and events, which he used in his writing. His father's brief period as a clerk in the Navy Pay Office afforded him a few years of private education at William Giles's School, in Chatham.

This period came to an abrupt end when the Dickens family, because of financial difficulties, moved from Kent to Camden Town, in London in 1822. John Dickens continually lived beyond his means and was eventually imprisoned in the Marshalsea
Marshalsea
The Marshalsea was a prison on the south bank of the River Thames in Southwark, now part of London. From the 14th century until it closed in 1842, it housed men under court martial for crimes at sea, including those accused of "unnatural crimes", political figures and intellectuals accused of...

 debtor's prison
Debtor's prison
A debtors' prison is a prison for those who are unable to pay a debt.Prior to the mid 19th century debtors' prisons were a common way to deal with unpaid debt.-Debt bondage in ancient Greece and Rome:...

 in Southwark, London in 1824. Shortly afterwards, the rest of his family joined him – except 12-year-old Charles, who was boarded with family friend Elizabeth Roylance in Camden Town
Camden Town
-Economy:In recent years, entertainment-related businesses and a Holiday Inn have moved into the area. A number of retail and food chain outlets have replaced independent shops driven out by high rents and redevelopment. Restaurants have thrived, with the variety of culinary traditions found in...

. Mrs. Roylance was "a reduced
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 old lady, long known to our family", whom Dickens later immortalised, "with a few alterations and embellishments", as "Mrs. Pipchin", in Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son is a novel by the Victorian author Charles Dickens. It was first published in monthly parts between October 1846 and April 1848 with the full title Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation...

. Later, he lived in a "back-attic...at the house of an insolvent-court agent...in Lant Street
Lant Street
Lant Street is a street south of Marshalsea Road in Southwark, south London, England.-Overview:At the northwest end is the Southwark Bridge Road and at the southeast end is Borough High Street. Close by, just to the north in Borough High Street, is the historic St George the Martyr church, where...

 in The Borough
Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

...he was a fat, good-natured, kind old gentleman, with a quiet old wife"; and he had a very innocent grown-up son; these three were the inspiration for the Garland family in The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel by Charles Dickens. The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London....

.
On Sundays, Dickens and his sister Frances ("Fanny") were allowed out from the Royal Academy of Music
Royal Academy of Music
The Royal Academy of Music in London, England, is a conservatoire, Britain's oldest degree-granting music school and a constituent college of the University of London since 1999. The Academy was founded by Lord Burghersh in 1822 with the help and ideas of the French harpist and composer Nicolas...

 and spent the day at the Marshalsea. (Dickens later used the prison as a setting in Little Dorrit
Little Dorrit
Little Dorrit is a serial novel by Charles Dickens published originally between 1855 and 1857. It is a work of satire on the shortcomings of the government and society of the period....

). To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens was forced to leave school and began working ten-hour days at Warren's Blacking
Shoe polish
Shoe polish , usually a waxy paste or a cream, is a consumer product used to polish, shine, waterproof, and restore the appearance of leather shoes or boots, thereby extending the footwear's life...

 Warehouse, on Hungerford Stairs, near the present Charing Cross railway station
Charing Cross railway station
Charing Cross railway station, also known as London Charing Cross, is a central London railway terminus in the City of Westminster, England. It is one of 18 stations managed by Network Rail, and trains serving it are operated by Southeastern...

. He earned six shilling
Shilling
The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. The word is thought to derive...

s a week pasting labels on blacking. The strenuous – and often cruel – work conditions made a deep impression on Dickens, and later influenced his fiction and essays, forming the foundation of his interest in the reform of socio-economic and labour conditions, the rigors of which he believed were unfairly borne by the poor. He would later write that he wondered "how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age." As told to John Forster (from The Life of Charles Dickens):


After only a few months in Marshalsea, John Dickens' paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens, died and bequeathed him the sum of £450. On the expectation of this legacy, Dickens was granted release from prison. Under the Insolvent Debtors Act
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

, Dickens arranged for payment of his creditors, and he and his family left Marshalsea for the home of Mrs. Roylance.

Although Charles eventually attended the Wellington House Academy in North London
North London
North London is the northern part of London, England. It is an imprecise description and the area it covers is defined differently for a range of purposes. Common to these definitions is that it includes districts located north of the River Thames and is used in comparison with South...

, his mother Elizabeth Dickens
Elizabeth Dickens
Elizabeth Culliford Dickens was the wife of John Dickens and the mother of English novelist Charles Dickens. She was the source for Mrs...

 did not immediately remove him from the boot-blacking factory. The incident may have done much to confirm Dickens's view that a father should rule the family, a mother find her proper sphere inside the home. "I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being sent back." His mother's failure to request his return was no doubt a factor in his dissatisfied attitude towards women.'

Righteous anger stemming from his own situation and the conditions under which working-class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 people lived became major themes of his works, and it was this unhappy period in his youth to which he alluded in his favourite, and most autobiographical, novel
Autobiographical novel
An autobiographical novel is a form of novel using autofiction techniques, or the merging of autobiographical and fiction elements. The literary technique is distinguished from an autobiography or memoir by the stipulation of being fiction...

, David Copperfield
David Copperfield (novel)
The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery , commonly referred to as David Copperfield, is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial...

: "I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!" The Wellington House Academy was not a good school. 'Much of the haphazard, desultory teaching, poor discipline punctuated by the headmaster's sadistic brutality, the seedy ushers and general run-down atmosphere, are embodied in Mr. Creakle's Establishment in David Copperfield.'
Dickens worked at the law office of Ellis and Blackmore, attorneys, of Holborn Court, Gray's Inn
Gray's Inn
The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns...

, as a junior clerk
Law clerk
A law clerk or a judicial clerk is a person who provides assistance to a judge in researching issues before the court and in writing opinions. Law clerks are not court clerks or courtroom deputies, who are administrative staff for the court. Most law clerks are recent law school graduates who...

 from May 1827 to November 1828. Then, having learned Gurneys system of shorthand in his spare time, he left to become a freelance reporter. A distant relative, Thomas Charlton, was a freelance reporter at Doctors' Commons
Doctors' Commons
Doctors' Commons, also called the College of Civilians, was a society of lawyers practising civil law in London. Like the Inns of Court of the common lawyers, the society had buildings with rooms where its members lived and worked, and a large library...

, and Dickens was able to share his box there to report the legal proceedings for nearly four years. This education informed works such as Nicholas Nickleby, Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son is a novel by the Victorian author Charles Dickens. It was first published in monthly parts between October 1846 and April 1848 with the full title Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation...

, and especially Bleak House
Bleak House
Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in twenty monthly installments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon...

—whose vivid portrayal of the machinations and bureaucracy of the legal system did much to enlighten the general public, and was a vehicle for dissemination of Dickens's own views regarding, particularly, the heavy burden on the poor who were forced by circumstances to "go to law".

In 1830, Dickens met his first love, Maria Beadnell, thought to have been the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield. Maria's parents disapproved of the courtship and effectively ended the relationship by sending her to school in Paris.

Journalism and early novels


In 1833, Dickens' first story, A Dinner at Poplar Walk was published in the London periodical, Monthly Magazine. The following year he rented rooms at Furnival's Inn
Furnival's Inn
Furnival's Inn was an Inn of Chancery which formerly stood on the site of the present Holborn Bars building in Holborn, London, England.-History:...

 becoming a political journalist, reporting on parliamentary debate and travelling across Britain to cover election campaigns for the Morning Chronicle
Morning Chronicle
The Morning Chronicle was a newspaper founded in 1769 in London, England, and published under various owners until 1862. It was most notable for having been the first employer of Charles Dickens, and for publishing the articles by Henry Mayhew which were collected and published in book format in...

. His journalism, in the form of sketches in periodicals, formed his first collection of pieces Sketches by Boz
Sketches by Boz
Sketches by "Boz," Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People is a collection of short pieces published by Charles Dickens in 1836 accompanied by illustrations by George Cruikshank. The 56 sketches concern London scenes and people and are divided into four sections: "Our Parish",...

, published in 1836. This led to the serialisation of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers
The Pickwick Papers
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any...

, in March 1836. He continued to contribute to and edit journals throughout his literary career.
In 1836, Dickens accepted the job of editor of Bentley's Miscellany
Bentley's Miscellany
Bentley's Miscellany was an English literary magazine started by Richard Bentley. It was published between 1836 and 1868.-Contributors:Already a successful publisher of novels, Bentley began the journal in 1836 and invited Charles Dickens to be its first editor...

, a position he held for three years, until he fell out with the owner. At the same time, his success as a novelist continued, producing Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

(1837–39), Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39), The Old Curiosity Shop and, finally, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty
Barnaby Rudge
Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty is a historical novel by British novelist Charles Dickens. Barnaby Rudge was one of two novels that Dickens published in his short-lived weekly serial Master Humphrey's Clock...

as part of the Master Humphrey's Clock
Master Humphrey's Clock
Master Humphrey's Clock was a weekly periodical edited and written entirely by Charles Dickens and published from April 4, 1840—December 4, 1841. It began with a frame story in which Master Humphrey tells about himself and his small circle of friends , and their penchant for telling stories...

series (1840–41)—all published in monthly instalments before being made into books. During this period Dickens kept a pet raven
Raven
Raven is the common name given to several larger-bodied members of the genus Corvus—but in Europe and North America the Common Raven is normally implied...

 named Grip, which he had stuffed when it died in 1841. (It is now at the Free Library of Philadelphia
Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia is the public library system serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.-History:History of the Free Library of Philadelphia: Initiated by the efforts of Dr...

).

On 2 April 1836, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth
Catherine Dickens
Catherine 'Kate' Thomson Dickens was the wife of English novelist Charles Dickens, with whom he fathered 10 children.-Marriage:...

 (1816–1879), the daughter of George Hogarth
George Hogarth
George Hogarth was a Scottish newspaper editor, music critic, and musicologist. He authored several books on opera and Victorian musical life in addition to contributing articles to various publications....

, editor of the Evening Chronicle
Evening Chronicle
The Evening Chronicle is a daily, evening newspaper produced in Newcastle upon Tyne, covering Tyne and Wear, southern Northumberland and northern County Durham. It was founded in 1885 by Joseph Cowen...

. After a brief honeymoon in Chalk
Chalk, Kent
Chalk is a village lying east of Gravesend, Kent, England, part of the town area. The name comes from the Saxon word cealc meaning a chalkstone....

, Kent, they set up home in Bloomsbury
Charles Dickens Museum, London
The Charles Dickens Museum is at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London Borough of Camden, England. It occupies a typical Georgian terraced house which was Charles Dickens' home from March 25, 1837 to December 1839...

. They had ten children
Dickens family
The Dickens family are the descendants of John Dickens, the father of the English novelist Charles Dickens. The descendants of Charles Dickens include the novelist Monica Dickens, the writer Lucinda Dickens Hawksley and the actors Harry Lloyd and Brian Forster....

:
  • Charles Culliford Boz Dickens (C. C. B. Dickens), later known as Charles Dickens, Jr., editor of All the Year Round
    All the Year Round
    All the Year Round was a Victorian periodical, being a British weekly literary magazine founded and owned by Charles Dickens, published between 1859 and 1895 throughout the United Kingdom. Edited by Dickens, it was the direct successor to his previous publication Household Words, abandoned due to...

    , and author of the Dickens's Dictionary of London (1879).
  • Mary Dickens
    Mary Dickens
    Mary 'Mamie' Angela Dickens was the oldest daughter of English novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine...

  • Kate Macready Dickens
    Kate Perugini
    Kate Perugini was an English painter of the Victorian era and the daughter of Charles Dickens.-Biography:...

  • Walter Landor Dickens
    Walter Landor Dickens
    Walter Savage Landor Dickens was the fourth child and second son of English novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine. He became an officer cadet in the East India Company's Presidency armies just before the Indian Mutiny...

  • Francis Jeffrey Dickens
    Francis Dickens
    Francis Jeffrey Dickens was the third son of Victorian novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine Dickens née Hogarth.- Early life and career :...

  • Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens
    Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens
    Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens was the sixth child and fourth son of British novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine...

  • Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens
    Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens
    Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens was a Royal Navy officer; the fifth son and seventh child of English novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine.-Biography:...

  • Sir Henry Fielding Dickens
    Henry Fielding Dickens
    Sir Henry Fielding Dickens, KC was the eighth of ten children born to British author Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine. The most successful of all of Dickens's children, he was a barrister, a KC and Common Serjeant of London, a senior legal office which he held for over 15 years.-Early...

  • Dora Annie Dickens
    Dora Annie Dickens
    Dora Annie Dickens was the infant daughter of English novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine. She was the ninth of their ten children, and the youngest of their three daughters.-A short life:...

  • Edward Dickens
    Edward Dickens
    Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens was the youngest son of English novelist Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine and was an Australian politician....



Dickens and his family lived at 48 Doughty Street, London, (on which he had a three year lease at £80 a year) from 25 March 1837 until December 1839. Dickens's younger brother Frederick
Frederick Dickens
Frederick William Dickens was the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens and was Charles Dickens' younger brother, who lived with Charles when he moved on to Furnival's Inn in 1834...

 and Catherine's 17-year-old sister Mary moved in with them. Dickens became very attached to Mary, and she died in his arms after a brief illness in 1837. She became a character in many of his books, and her death is fictionalised as the death of Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop.

First visit to America


In 1842, Dickens and his wife made his first trip to the United States and Canada, a journey which was successful in spite of his support for the abolition of slavery. It is described in the travelogue
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

 American Notes for General Circulation
American Notes
American Notes for General Circulation is a travelogue by Charles Dickens detailing his trip to North America from January to June, 1842. While there he acted as a critical observer of these societies almost as if returning a status report on their progress...

and is also the basis of some of the episodes in Martin Chuzzlewit
Martin Chuzzlewit
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a novel by Charles Dickens, considered the last of his picaresque novels. It was originally serialized between 1843-1844. Dickens himself proclaimed Martin Chuzzlewit to be his best work, but it was one of his least popular novels...

(1843-44). Dickens includes in Notes a powerful condemnation of slavery, with "ample proof" of the "atrocities" he found. He also called upon President John Tyler
John Tyler
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States . A native of Virginia, Tyler served as a state legislator, governor, U.S. representative, and U.S. senator before being elected Vice President . He was the first to succeed to the office of President following the death of a predecessor...

 at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

..

During his visit, Dickens spent a month in New York City, giving lectures, raising support for copyright laws, and recording many of his impressions of America. He met such luminaries as Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 and William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.-Youth and education:...

. On 14 February 1842, a Boz Ball was held in his honour at the Park Theater, with 3,000 guests. Among the neighbourhoods he visited were Five Points
Five Points, Manhattan
Five Points was a neighborhood in central lower Manhattan in New York City. The neighborhood was generally defined as being bound by Centre Street in the west, The Bowery in the east, Canal Street in the north and Park Row in the south...

, Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

, The Bowery
Bowery
Bowery may refer to:Streets:* The Bowery, a thoroughfare in Manhattan, New York City* Bowery Street is a street on Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y.In popular culture:* Bowery Amphitheatre, a building on the Bowery in New York City...

, and the prison known as The Tombs
The Tombs
"The Tombs" is the colloquial name for the Manhattan Detention Complex, a jail in Lower Manhattan at 125 White Street, as well as the popular name of a series of preceding downtown jails, the first of which was built in 1838 in the Egyptian Revival style of architecture.The nickname has been used...

. At this time Georgina Hogarth
Georgina Hogarth
Georgina Hogarth was the sister-in-law, housekeeper and adviser of English novelist Charles Dickens and the editor of two volumes of his collected letters after his death.-Biography:...

, another sister of Catherine, joined the Dickens household, now living at Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone
Marylebone
Marylebone is an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St. Marylebone or Mary-le-bone....

, to care for the young family they had left behind. She remained with them as housekeeper, organiser, adviser and friend until Dickens's death in 1870).

Shortly thereafter, he began to show interest in Unitarian
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 Christianity, although he remained an Anglican for the rest of his life. Soon after his return to England, Dickens began work on the first of his two or three famous Yuletide tales A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge's ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of...

written in 1843, which was followed by The Chimes
The Chimes
The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In, a short novel by Charles Dickens, was written and published in 1844, one year after A Christmas Carol and one year before The Cricket on the Hearth...

 in 1844 and The Cricket on the Hearth
The Cricket on the Hearth
The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home is a novella by Charles Dickens, published by Bradbury and Evans, and released 20  December 1845 with illustrations by Daniel Maclise, John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield and Edwin Henry Landseer. Dickens began writing the book around...

 in 1845. Of these "A Christmas Carol" was most popular and it did much to rekindle the joy of Christmas in Britain and America when the traditional celebration of Christmas was in decline. The seeds for the story were planted in Dickens' mind during a trip to Manchester to witness conditions of the manufacturing workers there. This, along with scenes he had recently witnessed at the Field Lane Ragged School, caused Dickens to resolve to "strike a sledge hammer blow" for the poor. As the idea for the story took shape and the writing began in earnest, Dickens became engrossed in the book. He wrote that as the tale unfolded he "wept and laughed, and wept again' as he 'walked about the black streets of London fifteen or twenty miles many a night when all sober folks had gone to bed." After living briefly abroad in Italy (1844) Dickens travelled to Switzerland (1846), it was here he began work on Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son is a novel by the Victorian author Charles Dickens. It was first published in monthly parts between October 1846 and April 1848 with the full title Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation...

(1846-48). This and David Copperfield (1849–50) marks a significant artistic break in Dickens' career as his novels became more serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early works.

Philanthropy


In May 1846, Angela Burdett Coutts
Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts
Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts , born Angela Georgina Burdett, was a nineteenth-century philanthropist, the daughter of Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Baronet and the former Sophia Coutts, daughter of banker Thomas Coutts...

, heir to the Coutts banking fortune, approached Dickens about setting up a home for the redemption of "fallen" women. Coutts envisioned a home that would differ from existing institutions, which offered harsh and punishing regimes for these women, and instead provide an environment where they could learn to read and write and become proficient in domestic household chores so as to re-integrate them into society. After initially resisting, Dickens eventually founded the home, named "Urania Cottage", in the Lime Grove section of Shepherds Bush. He became involved in many aspects of its day-to-day running, setting the house rules, reviewing the accounts and interviewing prospective residents, some of whom became characters in his books. He would scour prisons and workhouses for potentially suitable candidates and relied on friends, such as the Magistrate John Hardwick, to bring them to his attention. Each potential candidate was given a printed invitation written by Dickens called ‘An Appeal to Fallen Women’, which he signed only as ‘Your friend’. If the woman accepted the invitation, Dickens would personally interview her for admission. All of the women were required to emigrate following their time at Urania Cottage. In research published in 2009, the families of two of these women were identified, one in Canada and one in Australia. It is estimated that about 100 women graduated between 1847 and 1859.

Middle years


In late November 1851, Dickens moved into Tavistock House
Tavistock House
Tavistock House was the London home of the noted British author Charles Dickens and his family from 1851 to 1860. At Tavistock House Dickens wrote Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities. He also put on amateur theatricals there which are described in John Forster's Life of...

 where he would write Bleak House
Bleak House
Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in twenty monthly installments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon...

(1852–53), Hard Times
Hard Times
Hard Times - For These Times is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1854. The book appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times....

(1854) and Little Dorrit (1857). It was here he indulged in the amateur theatricals which are described in "Forster's Life". In 1856, the incomehe was earning from his writing allowed him to buy Gad's Hill Place in Higham
Higham, Kent
Higham is a small village bordering the Hoo Peninsula, in Kent, between Gravesend and Rochester. The civil parish of Higham is in Gravesham district and as at the 2001 UK Census, had a population of 3,938.-History:...

, Kent. As a child, Dickens had walked past the house and dreamed of living in it. The area was also the scene of some of the events of Shakespeare's
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard II, Henry IV , and Henry V...

and this literary connection pleased him.

In 1857, Dickens hired professional actresses for the play The Frozen Deep
The Frozen Deep
The Frozen Deep was a play, originally staged as an amateur theatrical, written by Wilkie Collins along with the substantial guidance of Charles Dickens in 1856...

, which he and his protégé Wilkie Collins
Wilkie Collins
William Wilkie Collins was an English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. He was very popular during the Victorian era and wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and over 100 non-fiction pieces...

 had written. Dickens formed a bond with one of the actresses, Ellen Ternan
Ellen Ternan
Ellen Lawless Ternan , also known as Nelly Ternan or Nelly Robinson, was an English actress who is mainly known as the woman for whom Charles Dickens separated from his wife Catherine.-Life:...

, which was to last the rest of his life. He then separated from his wife, Catherine, in 1858 – divorce was still unthinkable for someone as famous as he was.

During this period, whilst pondering about giving public readings for his own profit, Dickens was approached by Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is a children's hospital located in London, United Kingdom...

 to help it survive its first major financial crisis through a charitable appeal. Dickens, whose philanthropy was well-known, was asked to preside by his friend, the hospital's founder Charles West and he threw himself into the task, heart and soul (a little known fact is that Dickens reported anonymously in the weekly The Examiner in 1849 to help mishandled children and wrote another article to help publicise the hospital's opening in 1852). On 9 February 1858, Dickens spoke at the hospital's first annual festival dinner at Freemasons' Hall and later gave a public reading of A Christmas Carol at St. Martin-in-the-Fields
St Martin-in-the-Fields
St Martin-in-the-Fields is an Anglican church at the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, London. Its patron is Saint Martin of Tours.-Roman era:Excavations at the site in 2006 led to the discovery of a grave dated about 410...

 church hall. The events raised enough money to enable the hospital to purchase the neighbouring house, No. 48 Great Ormond Street, increasing the bed capacity from 20 to 75.

After separating from his wife in the summer of 1858 Dickens undertook his first series of public readings in London, which ended on 22 July. After 10 days rest, he began a gruelling and ambitious tour through the English provinces, Scotland and Ireland, beginning with a performance in Clifton
Clifton
Clifton is an English surname, place name or given name. It means "settlement by a cliff" in Old English. It may refer to:-Australia:*Clifton, Queensland, town and Shire south of Toowoomba*Clifton Beach, Queensland...

 on 2 August and closing in Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

, more than three months later, on 13 November. Altogether he read eighty-seven times, on some days giving both a matinée and an evening performance.

Major works, A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature....

(1859); and Great Expectations
Great Expectations
Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published in serial form in the publication All the Year Round from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. It has been adapted for stage and screen over 250 times....

(1861) soon followed and would prove resounding successes. During this time he was also the publisher and editor of, and a major contributor to, the journals Household Words
Household Words
Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens in the 1850s which took its name from the line from Shakespeare "Familiar in his mouth as household words" — Henry V.-History:...

(1850–1859) and All the Year Round
All the Year Round
All the Year Round was a Victorian periodical, being a British weekly literary magazine founded and owned by Charles Dickens, published between 1859 and 1895 throughout the United Kingdom. Edited by Dickens, it was the direct successor to his previous publication Household Words, abandoned due to...

(1858–1870).

In early September 1860, in a field behind Gad's Hill, Dickens made a great bonfire of almost his entire correspondence - only those letters on business matters were spared. Since Ellen Ternan also burned all of his letters to her, the extent of the affair between the two was unknown until the publication in 1939 of Dickens and Daughter, a book about Dickens's relationship with his daughter Kate. Kate Dickens worked with author Gladys Storey on the book prior to her death in 1929, and alleged that Dickens and Ternan had a son who died in infancy, although no contemporary evidence exists. On his death, Dickens settled an annuity
Life annuity
A life annuity is a financial contract in the form of an insurance product according to which a seller — typically a financial institution such as a life insurance company — makes a series of future payments to a buyer in exchange for the immediate payment of a lump sum or a series...

 on Ternan which made her a financially independent woman. Claire Tomalin's book, The Invisible Woman, set out to prove that Ternan lived with Dickens secretly for the last 13 years of his life. The book was subsequently turned into a play, Little Nell, by Simon Gray
Simon Gray
Simon James Holliday Gray, CBE , was an English playwright and memoirist who also had a career as a university lecturer in English literature at Queen Mary, University of London, for 20 years...

.

In the same period, Dickens furthered his interest in the paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 becoming one of the early members of The Ghost Club.

Franklin incident


A recurring theme in Dickens's writing reflected the public's interest in Arctic exploration. The heroic friendship between explorers John Franklin
John Franklin
Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin KCH FRGS RN was a British Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer. Franklin also served as governor of Tasmania for several years. In his last expedition, he disappeared while attempting to chart and navigate a section of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic...

 and John Richardson
John Richardson (naturalist)
Sir John Richardson was a Scottish naval surgeon, naturalist and arctic explorer.Richardson was born at Dumfries. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and became a surgeon in the navy in 1807. He traveled with John Franklin in search of the Northwest Passage on the Coppermine Expedition of...

 gave Dicken's the idea for A Tale of Two Cities, The Wreck of the Golden Mary and the play The Frozen Deep
The Frozen Deep
The Frozen Deep was a play, originally staged as an amateur theatrical, written by Wilkie Collins along with the substantial guidance of Charles Dickens in 1856...

. After Franklin died in unexplained circumstances on an expedition to find the North West Passage, Dickens wrote a piece in Household Words defending his hero against the claim made in 1854 thst recently discovered evidence showed that Franklin's men had, in their desperation, resorted to cannibalism. Without adducing any supporting evidence he speculated that, far from resorting to cannibalism amongst themselves, the members of the expedition may have been "set upon and slain by the Esquimaux ... We believe every savage to be in his heart covetous, treacherous, and cruel." Although publishing a defence of the Esquimaux
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

, written by John Rae
John Rae (explorer)
John Rae was a Scottish doctor who explored Northern Canada, surveyed parts of the Northwest Passage and reported the fate of the Franklin Expedition....

, a member of one of Franklin's rescue parties who had actually visited the scene of the supposed cannibalism, in a subsequent issue of Household Words, Dickens refused to alter his view.

Last years



On 9 June 1865, while returning from Paris with Ternan
Ellen Ternan
Ellen Lawless Ternan , also known as Nelly Ternan or Nelly Robinson, was an English actress who is mainly known as the woman for whom Charles Dickens separated from his wife Catherine.-Life:...

, Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash
Staplehurst rail crash
The Staplehurst rail crash was a railway accident at Staplehurst, Kent, England, which occurred on 9 June 1865 and in which ten passengers were killed and 40 injured...

. The first seven carriages of the train plunged off a cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 bridge under repair. The only first-class
First class travel
First class is the most luxurious class of accommodation on a train, passenger ship, airplane, or other conveyance. It is usually much more expensive than business class and economy class, and offers the best amenities.-Aviation:...

 carriage to remain on the track was the one in which Dickens was travelling. Dickens tried to help the wounded and the dying before rescuers arrived. Before leaving, he remembered the unfinished manuscript for Our Mutual Friend
Our Mutual Friend
Our Mutual Friend is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is one of his most sophisticated works, combining psychological insight with social analysis. It centres on, in the words of critic J. Hillis Miller, "money, money, money, and what money can make of life" but is also about human...

, and he returned to his carriage to retrieve it. Typically, Dickens later used this experience as material for his short ghost story
Ghost story
A ghost story may be any piece of fiction, or drama, or an account of an experience, that includes a ghost, or simply takes as a premise the possibility of ghosts or characters' belief in them. Colloquially, the term can refer to any kind of scary story. In a narrower sense, the ghost story has...

 The Signal-Man
The Signal-Man
The Signal-Man is a short story by Charles Dickens, first published as part of the "Mugby Junction" collection in the 1866 Christmas edition of All the Year Round....

in which the central character has a premonition of his own death in a rail crash. He based the story around several previous rail accidents, such as the Clayton Tunnel rail crash
Clayton Tunnel rail crash
The Clayton Tunnel rail crash, which took place on Sunday 25 August 1861, five miles from Brighton on the south coast of England, was the worst accident of the British railway system to that time...

 of 1861.

Dickens managed to avoid an appearance at the inquest
Inquest
Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove"...

, to avoid disclosing that he had been travelling with Ternan and her mother, which would have caused a scandal. Although physically unharmed, Dickens never really recovered from the trauma of the Staplehurst crash, and his normally prolific writing shrank to completing Our Mutual Friend and starting the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens' death, and his intended ending for it remains unknown. Though the novel is named after the character Edwin Drood, the story focuses on Drood's uncle, choirmaster John Jasper, who...

. Much of his time was taken up with public readings from his best-loved novels. Dickens was fascinated by the theatre as an escape from the world, and theatres and theatrical people appear in Nicholas Nickleby. The travelling shows were extremely popular. In 1866, a series of public readings were undertaken in England and Scotland. The following year saw more readings in England and Ireland.

Second visit to America


On 9 November 1867, Dickens sailed from Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 for his second American reading tour. Landing at Boston, he devoted the rest of the month to a round of dinners with such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline...

 and his American publisher James Thomas Fields
James Thomas Fields
James Thomas Fields was an American publisher, editor, and poet.-Early life and family:He was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on December 31, 1817 and named James Field; the family later added the "s". His father was a sea captain and died before Fields was three...

. In early December, the readings began and Dickens spent the month shuttling between Boston and New York. Although he had started to suffer from what he called the "true American catarrh", he kept to a schedule that would have challenged a much younger man, even managing to squeeze in some sleighing in Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

. In New York, he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall
Steinway Hall
Steinway Hall is the name of buildings housing concert halls, showrooms and sales departments for Steinway & Sons pianos. The first Steinway Hall was opened 1866 in New York City. Today, Steinway Halls and Steinway-Häuser are located in world cities such as New York City, London, Hamburg, Berlin,...

 between 9 December 1867 and 18 April 1868, and four at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims
Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims
Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims is a church in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York City. It was a station of the Underground Railroad, and the pulpit of Henry Ward Beecher, its first pastor...

 between 16 and 21 January 1868. During his travels, he saw a significant change in the people and the circumstances of America. His final appearance was at a banquet the American Press held in his honour at Delmonico's
Delmonico's Restaurant
Delmonico's is the name of series of restaurants of varying duration, quality, and fame located in New York City. The original and most famous was operated by the Delmonico family during the 19th and early 20th centuries, closing due to a Prohibition-era slowdown in 1923...

 on 18 April, when he promised to never denounce America again. By the end of the tour, the author could hardly manage solid food, subsisting on champagne and eggs beaten in sherry. On 23 April, he boarded his ship to return to Britain, barely escaping a Federal Tax Lien
Tax lien
A tax lien is a lien imposed by law upon a property to secure the payment of taxes. A tax lien may be imposed for delinquent taxes owed on real property or personal property, or as a result of failure to pay income taxes or other taxes....

 against the proceeds of his lecture tour.

Farewell readings


Between 1868 and 1869, Dickens gave a series of "farewell readings" in England, Scotland, and Ireland, until he collapsed on 22 April 1869, at Preston in Lancashire showing symptoms of a mild stroke. After further provincial readings were cancelled, he began work on his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens' death, and his intended ending for it remains unknown. Though the novel is named after the character Edwin Drood, the story focuses on Drood's uncle, choirmaster John Jasper, who...

. In an opium den
Opium den
An opium den was an establishment where opium was sold and smoked. Opium dens were prevalent in many parts of the world in the 19th century, most notably China, Southeast Asia, North America and France...

 in Shadwell
Shadwell
Shadwell is an inner-city district situated within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets located on the north bank of the Thames between Wapping to the south and Ratcliff to the east...

, he witnessed an elderly pusher known as "Opium Sal", who subsequently featured in his mystery novel.

When he had regained sufficient strength, Dickens arranged, with medical approval, for a final series of readings at least partially to make up to his sponsors what they had lost due of his illness. There were to be twelve performances, running between 11 January and 15 March 1870, the last taking place at 8:00 pm at St. James's Hall in London. Although in grave health by this time, he read A Christmas Carol and The Trial from Pickwick. On 2 May, he made his last public appearance at a Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 Banquet in the presence of the Prince
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 and Princess of Wales
Alexandra of Denmark
Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward VII of the United Kingdom...

, paying a special tribute to the passing of his friend, illustrator Daniel Maclise
Daniel Maclise
Daniel Maclise was an Irish history, literary and portrait painter, and illustrator, who worked for most of his life in London, England.-Early life:...

.

Death


On 8 June 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home, after a full day's work on Edwin Drood. The next day, on 9 June, and five years to the day after the Staplehurst rail crash 9 June 1865, he died at Gad's Hill Place never having regained consciousness. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral
Rochester Cathedral
Rochester Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Norman church in Rochester, Kent. The bishopric is second oldest in England after Canterbury...

 "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner", he was laid to rest in the Poets' Corner
Poets' Corner
Poets' Corner is the name traditionally given to a section of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey because of the number of poets, playwrights, and writers buried and commemorated there. The most recent additions were a memorial floor stone unveiled in 2009 for the founders of the Royal Ballet...

 of Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: "To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world." Dickens's last words, as reported in his obituary in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 were alleged to have been:
Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.


On Sunday, 19 June 1870, five days after Dickens's interment in the Abbey, Dean Arthur Penrhyn Stanley
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley was an English churchman, Dean of Westminster, known as Dean Stanley. His position was that of a Broad Churchman and he was the author of works on Church History.-Life and times:...

 delivered a memorial elegy, lauding "the genial and loving humorist whom we now mourn", for showing by his own example "that even in dealing with the darkest scenes and the most degraded characters, genius could still be clean, and mirth could be innocent." Pointing to the fresh flowers that adorned the novelist's grave, Stanley assured those present that "the spot would thenceforth be a sacred one with both the New World and the Old, as that of the representative of literature, not of this island only, but of all who speak our English tongue."

Dickens's will stipulated that no memorial be erected to honour him. The only life-size bronze statue of Dickens, cast in 1891 by Francis Edwin Elwell
Francis Edwin Elwell
Francis Edwin Elwell was an American sculptor.-Life:Born in Concord, Massachusetts, Elwell was orphaned at age four and, according to various sources, was adopted by author Louisa May Alcott or grew up under the care of his grandfather, a Mr...

, is located in Clark Park
Clark Park
Clark Park is a municipal park in the Spruce Hill section of West Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its are bordered by 43rd and 45th streets, and by Baltimore and Woodland Avenues....

 in the Spruce Hill
Spruce Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Spruce Hill is a neighborhood in the West Philadelphia section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is between 40th and 46th streets, and it stretches from Market Street south to Woodland Avenue. It has a population of over 16,000. It was built as a streetcar suburb for Center City between 1850 and...

 neighbourhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. The couch on which he died is preserved at the Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth.

Literary style


Dickens loved the style of the 18th century picturesque or Gothic romance novels, although it had already become a target for parody
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

. One "character" vividly drawn throughout his novels is London itself. From the coaching inn
Coaching inn
In Europe, from approximately the mid-17th century for a period of about 200 years, the coaching inn, sometimes called a coaching house or staging inn, was a vital part of the inland transport infrastructure, as an inn serving coach travelers...

s on the outskirts of the city to the lower reaches of the Thames, all aspects of the capital are described over the course of his body of work.

His writing style is florid and poetic, with a strong comic touch. His satires of British aristocratic snobbery—he calls one character the "Noble Refrigerator"—are often popular. Comparing orphans to stocks and shares, people to tug boats, or dinner-party guests to furniture are just some of Dickens's acclaimed flights of fancy. Many of his characters' names provide the reader with a hint as to the roles played in advancing the storyline, such as Mr. Murdstone in the novel David Copperfield, which is clearly a combination of "murder" and stony coldness. His literary style is also a mixture of fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 and realism
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

.

Characters


Dickens is famed for his depiction of the hardships of the working class, his intricate plots, and his sense of humour. But he is perhaps most famed for the characters he created. His novels were heralded early in his career for their ability to capture the everyday man and thus create characters to whom readers could relate. Beginning with The Pickwick Papers
The Pickwick Papers
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any...

in 1836, Dickens wrote numerous novels, each uniquely filled with believable personalities and vivid physical descriptions. Dickens's friend and biographer, John Forster, said that Dickens made "characters real existences, not by describing them but by letting them describe themselves."

Dickensian characters—especially their typically whimsical names—are among the most memorable in English literature. The likes of Ebenezer Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge is the principal character in Charles Dickens's 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge is a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things which give people happiness...

, Tiny Tim
Tiny Tim (A Christmas Carol)
Timothy Cratchit, called "Tiny Tim", is a fictional character from the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. He is a minor character, the young son of Bob Cratchit, and is seen only briefly, but serves as an important symbol of the consequences of the protagonist's choices...

, Jacob Marley
Jacob Marley
Jacob Marley is a fictional character who appears in Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.- Relationship with Scrooge:In life, Marley was the business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge. As teenagers, both men had been apprenticed in business and met as clerks in another business...

, Bob Cratchit
Bob Cratchit
Robert "Bob" Cratchit is a fictional character who is the abused, underpaid clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol...

, Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist (character)
Oliver Twist is the protagonist of the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. He was the first child protagonist in an English language novel.-Background:...

, The Artful Dodger, Fagin
Fagin
Fagin is a fictional character who appears as an antagonist of the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, referred to in the preface of the novel as a "receiver of stolen goods", but referred to more frequently within the actual story as the "merry old gentleman" or simply the "Jew".-Character:Born...

, Bill Sikes
Bill Sikes
William "Bill" Sikes is a fictional character in the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.He is one of Dickens's most vicious characters and a very strong force in the novel when it comes to having control over somebody or harming others. He is portrayed as a rough and barbaric man. He is a career...

, Pip, Miss Havisham
Miss Havisham
Miss Havisham is a significant character in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations . She is a wealthy spinster, who lives in her ruined mansion with her adopted daughter, Estella, whom she has sent to France, while she herself is described as looking like "the witch of the place."Although she...

, Charles Darnay
Charles Darnay
Charles Darnay, or Charles St. Evrémonde, is a fictional character in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.-Overview:A French aristocrat by birth, Darnay chooses to live in England because he cannot bear to be associated with the cruel injustices of the French social system...

, David Copperfield
David Copperfield (character)
David Copperfield is the character after which the 1850 Charles Dickens novel, David Copperfield, was named. The character is widely thought to be based on Dickens himself, using many elements of his own childhood.-Origin:...

, Mr. Micawber
Wilkins Micawber
Wilkins Micawber is a fictional character from Charles Dickens's 1850 novel, David Copperfield. He was modelled on Dickens's father, John Dickens, who like Micawber was incarcerated in debtors' prison after failing to meet his creditors' demands.Micawber's long-suffering wife, Emma, stands by him...

, Abel Magwitch
Abel Magwitch
Abel Magwitch is a fictional character from Charles Dickens’ 1861 novel Great Expectations.-Synopsis:Charles Dickens setted his character Abel Magwitch to meet a man called Compeyson at the Epsom Races. Compeyson, Dickens wrote, had been brought up in a boarding school and was a good-looking and...

, Daniel Quilp, Samuel Pickwick, Wackford Squeers, Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep is a fictional character created by Charles Dickens in his novel David Copperfield.The character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own "'umbleness". His name has become synonymous with being a yes man...

 and many others are so well known and can be believed to be living a life outside the novels that their stories have been continued by other authors.

The author worked closely with his illustrators supplying them with a summary of the work at the outset and thus ensuring that his characters and settings were exactly how he envisioned them. He would brief the illustrator on plans for each month's instalment so that work could begin before he wrote them. Marcus Stone
Marcus Stone
Marcus Stone , English painter, son of Frank Stone, ARA, was trained by his father and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy before he was eighteen; and a few years later he illustrated with much success books by Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and other writers, friends of his family.He was...

, illustrator of Our Mutual Friend, recalled that the author was always "ready to describe down to the minutest details the personal characteristics, and ... life-history of the creations of his fancy." This close working relationship is important to readers of Dickens today. The illustrations give us a glimpse of the characters as Dickens described them. Film makers still use the illustrations as a basis for characterisation, costume, and set design.

Often these characters were based on people he knew. In a few instances Dickens based the character too closely on the original, as in the case of Harold Skimpole in Bleak House, based on Leigh Hunt, and Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield, based on his wife's dwarf chiropodist. Indeed, the acquaintances made when reading a Dickens novel are not easily forgotten. The author, Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf
Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English author, essayist, publisher, and writer of short stories, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century....

, maintained that "we remodel our psychological geography when we read Dickens" as he produces "characters who exist not in detail, not accurately or exactly, but abundantly in a cluster of wild yet extraordinarily revealing remarks."

Autobiographical elements



All authors might be said to incorporate autobiographical elements in their fiction, but with Dickens this is very noticeable, even though he took pains to mask what he considered his shameful, lowly past. David Copperfield is one of the most clearly autobiographical but the scenes from Bleak House of interminable court cases and legal arguments are drawn from the author's brief career as a court reporter. Dickens's own father was sent to prison for debt, and this became a common theme in many of his books, with the detailed depiction of life in the Marshalsea prison in Little Dorrit resulting from Dickens's own experiences of the institution. Childhood sweethearts in many of his books (such as Little Em'ly in David Copperfield) may have been based on Dickens's own childhood infatuation with Lucy Stroughill.
Dickens may have drawn on his childhood experiences, but he was also ashamed of them and would not reveal that this was where he gathered his realistic accounts of squalor. Very few knew the details of his early life until six years after his death when John Forster published a biography on which Dickens had collaborated.

Episodic writing


As noted above, most of Dickens's major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey's Clock
Master Humphrey's Clock
Master Humphrey's Clock was a weekly periodical edited and written entirely by Charles Dickens and published from April 4, 1840—December 4, 1841. It began with a frame story in which Master Humphrey tells about himself and his small circle of friends , and their penchant for telling stories...

and Household Words
Household Words
Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens in the 1850s which took its name from the line from Shakespeare "Familiar in his mouth as household words" — Henry V.-History:...

, later reprinted in book form. These instalments made the stories cheap, accessible and the series of regular cliff-hangers
Cliffhanger
A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction...

 made each new episode widely anticipated. American fans even waited at the docks in New York, shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship, "Is little Nell dead?" Part of Dickens's great talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a coherent novel at the end. The monthly numbers were illustrated by, amongst others, "Phiz" (a pseudonym for Hablot Browne). Among his best-known works are Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, The Pickwick Papers, and A Christmas Carol.
Dickens's technique of writing in monthly or weekly instalments (depending on the work) can be understood by analysing his relationship with his illustrator
Illustrator
An Illustrator is a narrative artist who specializes in enhancing writing by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text...

s. The several artists who filled this role were privy to the contents and intentions of Dickens's instalments before the general public. Thus, by reading these correspondences between author and illustrator, the intentions behind Dickens's work can be better understood. These also reveal how the interests of the reader and author do not coincide. A great example of that appears in the monthly novel Oliver Twist. At one point in this work, Dickens had Oliver become embroiled in a robbery. That particular monthly instalment concludes with young Oliver being shot. Readers expected that they would be forced to wait only a month to find out the outcome of that gunshot. In fact, Dickens did not reveal what became of young Oliver in the succeeding number. Rather, the reading public was forced to wait two months to discover if the boy lived.

Another important impact of Dickens's episodic writing style resulted from his exposure to the opinions of his readers. Since Dickens did not write the chapters very far ahead of their publication, he was allowed to witness the public reaction and alter the story depending on those public reactions. A fine example of this process can be seen in his weekly serial The Old Curiosity Shop, which is a chase story. In this novel, Nell and her grandfather are fleeing the villain Quilp. The progress of the novel follows the gradual success of that pursuit. As Dickens wrote and published the weekly instalments, his friend John Forster pointed out: "You know you're going to have to kill her, don't you?" Why this end was necessary can be explained by a brief analysis of the difference between the structure of a comedy versus a tragedy. In a comedy, the action covers a sequence "You think they're going to lose, you think they're going to lose, they win". In tragedy, it is: "You think they're going to win, you think they're going to win, they lose". The dramatic conclusion of the story is implicit throughout the novel. So, as Dickens wrote the novel in the form of a tragedy, the sad outcome of the novel was a foregone conclusion. If he had not caused his heroine to lose, he would not have completed his dramatic structure. Dickens admitted that his friend Forster was right and, in the end, Nell died.

Social commentary


Dickens's novels were, among other things, works of social commentary
Social commentary
Social commentary is the act of rebelling against an individual, or a group of people by rhetorical means, or commentary on social issues or society...

. He was a fierce critic of the poverty and social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 of Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 society. Dickens's second novel, Oliver Twist (1839), shocked readers with its images of poverty and crime and was responsible for the clearing of the actual London slum
Rookery (slum)
A rookery was the colloquial British English term given in the 18th and 19th centuries to a city slum occupied by poor people...

, Jacob's Island
Jacob's Island
Jacob's Island was a notorious rookery in Bermondsey, on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It was separated from Shad Thames to the west by St Saviour's Dock, the point where the subterranean River Neckinger enters the Thames, and on the other two sides by tidal ditches, one just west...

, that was the basis of the story. In addition, with the character of the tragic prostitute, Nancy, Dickens "humanised" such women for the reading public; women who were regarded as "unfortunates", inherently immoral casualties of the Victorian class/economic system. Bleak House and Little Dorrit elaborated expansive critiques of the Victorian institutional apparatus: the interminable lawsuits of the Court of Chancery
Court of Chancery
The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of...

 that destroyed people's lives in Bleak House and a dual attack in Little Dorrit on inefficient, corrupt patent office
Patent office
A patent office is a governmental or intergovernmental organization which controls the issue of patents. In other words, "patent offices are government bodies that may grant a patent or reject the patent application based on whether or not the application fulfils the requirements for...

s and unregulated market speculation
Speculation
In finance, speculation is a financial action that does not promise safety of the initial investment along with the return on the principal sum...

.

Literary techniques



Dickens is often described as using 'idealised' characters and highly sentimental scenes to contrast with his caricature
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

s and the ugly social truths he reveals. The story of Nell Trent in The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel by Charles Dickens. The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London....

(1841) was received as incredibly moving by contemporary readers but viewed as ludicrously sentimental by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

. "You would need to have a heart of stone", he declared in one of his famous witticisms, "not to laugh at the death of little Nell." (although her death actually takes place off-stage). In 1903 G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

 said, "It is not the death of little Nell, but the life of little Nell, that I object to."

In Oliver Twist Dickens provides readers with an idealised portrait of a boy so inherently and unrealistically 'good' that his values are never subverted by either brutal orphanages or coerced involvement in a gang of young pickpockets
Pickpocketing
Pickpocketing is a form of larceny that involves the stealing of money or other valuables from the person of a victim without their noticing the theft at the time. It requires considerable dexterity and a knack for misdirection...

. While later novels also centre on idealised characters (Esther Summerson in Bleak House and Amy Dorrit in Little Dorrit), this idealism serves only to highlight Dickens's goal of poignant social commentary
Social commentary
Social commentary is the act of rebelling against an individual, or a group of people by rhetorical means, or commentary on social issues or society...

. Many of his novels are concerned with social realism, focusing on mechanisms of social control that direct people's lives (for instance, factory networks in Hard Times and hypocritical exclusionary class codes in Our Mutual Friend).Dickens also employs incredible coincidences (e.g., Oliver Twist turns out to be the lost nephew of the upper class family that randomly rescues him from the dangers of the pickpocket group). Such coincidences are a staple of eighteenth century picaresque novels such as Henry Fielding's Tom Jones
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, often known simply as Tom Jones, is a comic novel by the English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding. First published on 28 February 1749, Tom Jones is among the earliest English prose works describable as a novel...

that Dickens enjoyed so much. But, to Dickens, these were not just plot device
Plot device
A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot....

s but an index of the humanism that led him to believe that good wins out in the end and often in unexpected ways.

Legacy



A well-known personality, his novels proved immensely popular during his lifetime. His first full novel, The Pickwick Papers
The Pickwick Papers
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any...

(1837), brought him immediate fame, and this success continued throughout his career. Although rarely departing greatly from his typical "Dickensian" method of always attempting to write a great "story" in a somewhat conventional manner (the dual narrators of Bleak House constitute a notable exception), he experimented with varied themes, characterisations, and genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s. Some of these experiments achieved more popularity than others, and the public's taste and appreciation of his many works have varied over time. Usually keen to give his readers what they wanted, the monthly or weekly publication of his works in episodes meant that the books could change as the story proceeded at the whim of the public. Good examples of this are the American episodes in Martin Chuzzlewit which Dickens included in response to lower-than-normal sales of the earlier chapters.
Dickens continues to be one of the best known and most read of English authors, and his works have never gone out of print
Out-of-print book
An out-of-print book is a book that is no longer being published. Out-of-print books are often rare, and may be difficult to acquire.A publisher will usually create a print run of a fixed number of copies of a new book. These books can be ordered in bulk by booksellers, and when all the...

. At least 180 motion pictures and TV adaptations based on Dickens's works help confirm his success. Many of his works were adapted for the stage during his own lifetime and as early as 1913 a silent film of The Pickwick Papers was made. His characters were often so memorable that they took on a life of their own outside his books. Gamp became a slang expression for an umbrella from the character Mrs. Gamp
Martin Chuzzlewit
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a novel by Charles Dickens, considered the last of his picaresque novels. It was originally serialized between 1843-1844. Dickens himself proclaimed Martin Chuzzlewit to be his best work, but it was one of his least popular novels...

 and Pickwickian, Pecksniffian, and Gradgrind all entered dictionaries due to Dickens's original portraits of such characters who were quixotic
Quixotism
Quixotism is impracticality in pursuit of ideals, especially those ideals manifested by rash, lofty and romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action. It also serves to describe an idealism without regard to practicality...

, hypocritical, or emotionlessly logical. Sam Weller, the carefree and irreverent valet
Valet
Valet and varlet are terms for male servants who serve as personal attendants to their employer.- Word origins :In the Middle Ages, the valet de chambre to a ruler was a prestigious appointment for young men...

 of The Pickwick Papers, was an early superstar, perhaps better known than his author at first. It is likely that A Christmas Carol stands as his best-known story, with new adaptations almost every year. It is also the most-filmed of Dickens's stories, with many versions dating from the early years of cinema. This simple morality tale
Morality play
The morality play is a genre of Medieval and early Tudor theatrical entertainment. In their own time, these plays were known as "interludes", a broader term given to dramas with or without a moral theme. Morality plays are a type of allegory in which the protagonist is met by personifications of...

 with both pathos
Pathos
Pathos represents an appeal to the audience's emotions. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric , and in literature, film and other narrative art....

 and its theme of redemption, sums up (for many) the true meaning of Christmas. Indeed, it eclipses all other Yule
Yule
Yule or Yuletide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January...

tide stories in not only popularity, but in adding archetypal figures (Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Christmas ghosts) to the Western cultural consciousness. A prominent phrase from the tale, 'Merry Christmas', was popularised following the appearance of the story. The term Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge
Ebenezer Scrooge is the principal character in Charles Dickens's 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the novel, Scrooge is a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises Christmas and all things which give people happiness...

 became a synonym for miser, with 'Bah! Humbug!'
Humbug
Humbug is an old term meaning hoax or jest. While the term was first described in 1751 as student slang, its etymology is unknown. Its present meaning as an exclamation is closer to 'nonsense' or 'gibberish', while as a noun, a humbug refers to a fraud or impostor, implying an element of...

dismissive of the festive spirit. Novelist William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.-Biography:...

 called the book "a national benefit, and to every man and woman who reads it a personal kindness". Some historians claim the book significantly redefined the "spirit" and importance of Christmas, and initiated a rebirth of seasonal merriment after Puritan authorities in 17th century England and America suppressed pagan rituals associated with the holiday. According to the historian Ronald Hutton
Ronald Hutton
Ronald Hutton is an English historian who specializes in the study of Early Modern Britain, British folklore, pre-Christian religion and contemporary Paganism. A reader in the subject at the University of Bristol, Hutton has published fourteen books and has appeared on British television and radio...

, the current state of the observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday spearheaded by A Christmas Carol. Dickens sought to construct Christmas as a family-centred festival of generosity, in contrast to the community-based and church-centred observations, the observance of which had dwindled during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Superimposing his secular vision of the holiday, Dickens influenced many aspects of Christmas that are celebrated today among Western nations, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games, and a festive generosity of spirit. A Christmas Carol rejuvenated his career as a renowned author. A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature....

is Dickens best selling novel. Since its inaugural publication in 1859, the novel has sold over 200 million copies, and is among the most famous works of fiction.
At a time when Britain was the major economic and political power of the world, Dickens highlighted the life of the forgotten poor and disadvantaged within society. Through his journalism he campaigned on specific issues—such as sanitation
Sanitation
Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems are human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic...

 and the workhouse
Workhouse
In England and Wales a workhouse, colloquially known as a spike, was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment...

—but his fiction probably demonstrated its greatest prowess in changing public opinion in regard to class inequalities. He often depicted the exploitation and repression of the poor and condemned the public officials and institutions that not only allowed such abuses to exist, but flourished as a result. His most strident indictment of this condition is in Hard Times (1854), Dickens's only novel-length treatment of the industrial working class. In this work, he uses both vitriol and satire to illustrate how this marginalised social stratum was termed "Hands" by the factory owners; that is, not really "people" but rather only appendages of the machines that they operated. His writings inspired others, in particular journalists and political figures, to address such problems of class oppression. For example, the prison scenes in The Pickwick Papers are claimed to have been influential in having the Fleet Prison
Fleet Prison
Fleet Prison was a notorious London prison by the side of the Fleet River in London. The prison was built in 1197 and was in use until 1844. It was demolished in 1846.- History :...

 shut down. As Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 said, Dickens, and the other novelists of Victorian England, "...issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together...". The exceptional popularity of his novels, even those with socially oppositional themes (Bleak House, 1853; Little Dorrit, 1857; Our Mutual Friend, 1865) underscored not only his almost preternatural ability to create compelling storylines and unforgettable characters, but also ensured that the Victorian public confronted issues of social justice that had commonly been ignored.

His fiction, with often vivid descriptions of life in nineteenth century England, has inaccurately and anachronistically come to symbolise on a global level Victorian society (1837 – 1901) as uniformly "Dickensian", when in fact, his novels' time span spanned from the 1770s to the 1860s. In the decade following his death in 1870, a more intense degree of socially and philosophically pessimistic perspectives invested British fiction; such themes stood in marked contrast to the religious faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 that ultimately held together even the bleakest of Dickens's novels. Dickens clearly influenced later Victorian novelists such as Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

 and George Gissing
George Gissing
George Robert Gissing was an English novelist who published twenty-three novels between 1880 and 1903. From his early naturalistic works, he developed into one of the most accomplished realists of the late-Victorian era.-Early life:...

; their works display a greater willingness to confront and challenge the Victorian institution of religion. They also portray characters caught up by social forces (primarily via lower-class conditions), but they usually steered them to tragic ends beyond their control.

Novelists continue to be influenced by his books; for instance, such disparate current writers as Anne Rice
Anne Rice
Anne Rice is a best-selling Southern American author of metaphysical gothic fiction, Christian literature and erotica from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history...

, Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

, and John Irving
John Irving
John Winslow Irving is an American novelist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter.Irving achieved critical and popular acclaim after the international success of The World According to Garp in 1978...

 evidence direct Dickensian connections. Humorist James Finn Garner
James Finn Garner
James Finn Garner is an American writer and satirist based in Chicago. He is the author of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Politically Correct Holiday Stories, and Apocalypse Wow.-External links:*...

 even wrote a tongue-in-cheek "politically correct" version of A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge's ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of...

, and other affectionate parodies include the Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 comedy Bleak Expectations
Bleak Expectations
Bleak Expectations is a Radio 4 comedy series, whose first series premiered in August 2007. It is a pastiche of the works of Charles Dickens – such as Bleak House and Great Expectations, from which it derives its name – and costume dramas set in the same period, and parodies several of their plot...

. Matthew Pearl
Matthew Pearl
Matthew Pearl is an American novelist and educator. His novels include The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens and have been published in more than 40 countries.-Biography:...

's novel The Last Dickens
The Last Dickens
The Last Dickens is a novel by Matthew Pearl published by Random House. It is a work of historical and literary fiction. The novel is a Washington Post Critics' Pick. It contains some characters from The Dante Club.-Plot summary:...

is a thriller about how Charles Dickens would have ended The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens' death, and his intended ending for it remains unknown. Though the novel is named after the character Edwin Drood, the story focuses on Drood's uncle, choirmaster John Jasper, who...

. In the UK survey entitled The Big Read carried out by the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 in 2003, five of Dickens' books were named in the Top 100, featuring alongside Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett
Sir Terence David John "Terry" Pratchett, OBE is an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best known for his popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels...

 with the most.

Although Dickens's life has been the subject of at least two TV miniseries, a television film The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens
The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens
The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens is a 1970 British television film about the life of Charles Dickens directed by Ned Sherrin and starring Anthony Hopkins, Jenny Agutter and Arthur Lowe....

in which he was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, KBE , best known as Anthony Hopkins, is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television...

, and two famous one-man shows, he has never been the subject of a Hollywood big screen biography.

Claims of anti-Semitism and racism



Paul Vallely writes in The Independent that Dickens's Fagin in Oliver Twist —the Jew who runs a school in London for child pickpockets—is widely seen as one of the most grotesque Jews in English literature, and the most vivid of Dickens's 989 characters.

The mud lay thick upon the stones, and a black mist hung over the streets; the rain fell sluggishly down, and everything felt cold and clammy to the touch. It seemed just the night when it befitted such a being as the Jew to be abroad. As he glided stealthily along, creeping beneath the shelter of the walls and doorways, the hideous old man seemed like some loathsome reptile, engendered in the slime and darkness through which he moved, crawling forth by night in search of some rich offal for a meal.


The character is thought to have been partly based on Ikey Solomon
Ikey Solomon
Isaac "Ikey" Solomon was an English criminal who became an extremely successful receiver of stolen property. He gained fame for his crimes, escape from arrest, and his high-profile recapture and trial...

, a 19th century Jewish criminal in London, who was interviewed by Dickens during the latter's time as a journalist. Nadia Valdman, who writes about the portrayal of Jews in literature, argues that Fagin's representation was drawn from the image of the Jew as inherently evil, that the imagery associated him with the Devil, and with beasts.

The novel refers to Fagin 257 times in the first 38 chapters as "the Jew", while the ethnicity or religion of the other characters is rarely mentioned. In 1854, the Jewish Chronicle asked why "Jews alone should be excluded from the 'sympathizing heart' of this great author and powerful friend of the oppressed." Eliza Davis, whose husband had purchased Dickens's home in 1860 when he had put it up for sale, wrote to Dickens in protest at his portrayal of Fagin, arguing that he had "encouraged a vile prejudice against the despised Hebrew", and that he had done a great wrong to the Jewish people. Dickens had described her husband at the time of the sale as a "Jewish moneylender", though also someone he came to know as an honest gentleman.

Surprisingly, Dickens took her complaint seriously. He halted the printing of Oliver Twist, and changed the text for the parts of the book that had not been set, which is why Fagin is called "the Jew" 257 times in the first 38 chapters, but barely at all in the next 179 references to him. In his novel, Our Mutual Friend, he created the character of Riah (meaning "friend" in Hebrew), whose goodness, Vallely writes, is almost as complete as Fagin's evil. Riah says in the novel: "Men say, 'This is a bad Greek, but there are good Greeks. This is a bad Turk, but there are good Turks.' Not so with the Jews ... they take the worst of us as samples of the best ..." Davis sent Dickens a copy of the Hebrew bible in gratitude.

Dickens's attitudes towards blacks were also complex, although he fiercely opposed the inhumanity of slavery in the United States, and expressed a desire for African American emancipation. In American Notes, he includes a comic episode with a black coach driver, presenting a grotesque description focused on the man's dark complexion and way of movement, which to Dickens amounts to an "insane imitation of an English coachman". In 1868, alluding to the then poor intellectual condition of the black population in America, Dickens railed against "the mechanical absurdity of giving these people votes", which "at any rate at present, would glare out of every roll of their eyes, chuckle in their mouths, and bump in their heads."

In The Perils of Certain English Prisoners Dickens offers an allegory of the Indian Mutiny
Indian Rebellion of 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company's army on 10 May 1857, in the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to...

, where the "native Sambo", a paradigm of the Indian mutineers, is a "double-dyed traitor, and a most infernal villain" who takes part in a massacre of women and children, in an allusion to the Cawnpore Massacre. Dickens was much incensed by the massacre, in which over a hundred English prisoners, most of them women and children, were killed, and on 4 October 1857 wrote in a private letter to Baroness Burdett-Coutts: "I wish I were the Commander in Chief in India. ... I should do my utmost to exterminate the Race upon whom the stain of the late cruelties rested ... proceeding, with all convenient dispatch and merciful swiftness of execution, to blot it out of mankind and raze it off the face of the earth."

Perils greatly influenced the cultural reaction from English writers to the mutiny, by attributing guilt so as to portray the British as victims, and the Indians as villains. Wilkie Collins
Wilkie Collins
William Wilkie Collins was an English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. He was very popular during the Victorian era and wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and over 100 non-fiction pieces...

, who co-wrote Perils, deviates from Dickens's view, writing the second chapter from a different perspective which, quoting poet Jaya Mehta, was "parodying British racism, instead of promoting it". Contemporary literary critic Arthur Quiller-Couch
Arthur Quiller-Couch
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a Cornish writer, who published under the pen name of Q. He is primarily remembered for the monumental Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 , and for his literary criticism...

 praised Dickens for eschewing any real-life depiction of the incident, for fear of inflaming his "raging mad" readership further, in favour of a romantic story "empty of racial or propagandist hatred". A modern inference is that it was his son's position in India, there on military service, at the mercy of inept imperial leaders who misunderstood conquered people, that may have influenced his reluctance to set Perils in India, for fear that his criticism may antagonise the son's superiors.

Names: 'Dickens' and 'Boz'



Charles Dickens had, as a contemporary critic put it, a "queer name". The name Dickens was used in interjective exclamations like "What the Dickens!" as a substitute for "devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

". It was recorded in the OED as originating from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare, first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. It features the fat knight Sir John Falstaff, and is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life...

. It was also used in the phrase "to play the Dickens" in the meaning "to play havoc/mischief".

'Boz' was Dickens' occasional pen-name, but was a familiar name in the Dickens household long before Charles became a famous author. It was actually taken from his youngest brother Augustus Dickens
Augustus Dickens
Augustus Newnham Dickens was the youngest brother of English novelist Charles Dickens, and the inspiration for his pen name 'Boz'...

' family nickname 'Moses', given to him in honour of one of the brothers in The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield
The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

(one of the most widely read novels during the early 19th century). When playfully pronounced through the nose 'Moses' became 'Boses', and was later shortened to 'Boz' – pronounced through the nose with a long vowel 'o'.

Siblings

  • Frances (Fanny) Elizabeth Dickens 1810–1848
  • Letitia Dickens 1816–1893
  • Harriet Dickens 1819–1824
  • Frederick Dickens
    Frederick Dickens
    Frederick William Dickens was the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens and was Charles Dickens' younger brother, who lived with Charles when he moved on to Furnival's Inn in 1834...

  • Alfred Lamert Dickens
  • Augustus Newnham Dickens
    Augustus Dickens
    Augustus Newnham Dickens was the youngest brother of English novelist Charles Dickens, and the inspiration for his pen name 'Boz'...



Adaptations of readings


There have been several performances of Dickens readings by Emlyn Williams
Emlyn Williams
George Emlyn Williams, CBE , known as Emlyn Williams, was a Welsh dramatist and actor.-Biography:He was born into a Welsh-speaking, working class family in Mostyn, Flintshire....

, Bransby Williams, Clive Francis
Clive Francis
-Early life:He is the son of actors Raymond Francis and Margaret Towner. He was born in Eastbourne.His father played Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Lockhart in the 1960s series No Hiding Place and his mother still acts today - most recently she played Jira, Anakin Skywalker's friend, in Star...

 performing the John Mortimer
John Mortimer
Sir John Clifford Mortimer, CBE, QC was a British barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author.-Early life:...

 adaptation of A Christmas Carol and also Simon Callow
Simon Callow
Simon Phillip Hugh Callow, CBE is an English actor, writer and theatre director. He is also currently a judge on Popstar to Operastar.-Early years:...

 in the Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English biographer, novelist and critic with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. For his novels about English history and culture and his biographies of, among others, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot and Sir Thomas More he won the Somerset Maugham Award...

. Entertainer Mike Randall
Mike Randall (entertainer)
Michael E. "Mike" Randall is an American actor, meteorologist and reporter from Buffalo, New York. He is best known for his long run on WKBW-TV, where he has been since 1983 and has been the chief meteorologist since 1999.-Television career:...

 re-enacts Dickens's readings (in character as Dickens) for a series of shows known as "Charles Dickens Presents A Christmas Carol," primarily in his home region in Western New York
Western New York
Western New York is the westernmost region of the state of New York. It includes the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, the surrounding suburbs, as well as the outlying rural areas of the Great Lakes lowlands, the Genesee Valley, and the Southern Tier. Some historians, scholars and others...

.

Museums and festivals




There are museums and festivals celebrating Dickens's life and works in many of the towns with which he was associated.
  • The Charles Dickens Museum
    Charles Dickens Museum, London
    The Charles Dickens Museum is at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London Borough of Camden, England. It occupies a typical Georgian terraced house which was Charles Dickens' home from March 25, 1837 to December 1839...

    , in Doughty Street, Holborn
    Holborn
    Holborn is an area of Central London. Holborn is also the name of the area's principal east-west street, running as High Holborn from St Giles's High Street to Gray's Inn Road and then on to Holborn Viaduct...

     is the only one of Dickens's London homes to survive. He lived there only two years but in that time wrote The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. It contains a major collection of manuscripts, original furniture and memorabilia.
  • Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth is the house in which Dickens was born. It has been re-furnished in the likely style of 1812 and contains Dickens memorabilia.
  • The Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs
    Broadstairs
    Broadstairs is a coastal town on the Isle of Thanet in the Thanet district of east Kent, England, about south-east of London. It is part of the civil parish of Broadstairs and St Peter's, which includes St. Peter's and had a population in 2001 of about 24,000. Situated between Margate and...

    , Kent is the house of Miss Mary Pearson Strong, the basis for Miss Betsey Trotwood
    Betsey Trotwood
    Betsey Trotwood is a fictional character from Charles Dickens' 1850 novel David Copperfield.-Role in novel:She is David's great-aunt on his father's side, and has an unfavourable view of men and boys, having been ill-used and abandoned by a worthless husband earlier in life...

     in David Copperfield. It is visible across the bay from the original Bleak House (also a museum until 2005) where David Copperfield was written. The museum contains memorabilia, general Victoriana and some of Dickens's letters. Broadstairs has held a Dickens Festival annually since 1937.
  • The Charles Dickens Centre in Eastgate House, Rochester, closed in 2004, but the garden containing the author's Swiss chalet
    Chalet
    A chalet , also called Swiss chalet, is a type of building or house, native to the Alpine region, made of wood, with a heavy, gently sloping roof with wide, well-supported eaves set at right angles to the front of the house.-Definition and origin:...

     is still open. The 16th century house, which appeared as Westgate House in The Pickwick Papers and the Nun's House in Edwin Drood, is now used as a wedding venue. The city's annual Dickens Festival (summer) and Dickensian Christmas celebrations continue unaffected. Summer Dickens is held at the end of May or in the first few days of June, it commences with an invitation only ball on the Thursday and then continues with street entertainment, and many costumed characters, on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Christmas Dickens is the first weekend in December- Saturday and Sunday only.
  • Dickens World
    Dickens World
    Dickens World is a themed attraction located at Chatham Dockyard in the English county of Kent. Privately funded, it cost £62 million to create, and was opened to the public on 25 May 2007.-The concept:...

     themed attraction, covering 71500 square feet (6,643 m²), and including a cinema and restaurants, opened in Chatham on 25 May 2007. It stands on a small part of the site of the former naval dockyard
    Chatham Dockyard
    Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional...

     where Dickens's father had once worked in the Navy Pay Office.
  • To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens in 2012 the Museum of London
    Museum of London
    The Museum of London documents the history of London from the Prehistoric to the present day. The museum is located close to the Barbican Centre, as part of the striking Barbican complex of buildings created in the 1960s and 70s as an innovative approach to re-development within a bomb damaged...

     hosts the UK's first major exhibition on the author for 40 years. Dickens and London opens on 9 December 2011 and is on until 10 June 2012.


Dickens festivals are also held across the world. Four notable ones in the United States are:
  • The Riverside Dickens Festival in Riverside
    Riverside, California
    Riverside is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, and the county seat of the eponymous county. Named for its location beside the Santa Ana River, it is the largest city in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area of Southern California, 4th largest inland California...

    , California, includes literary studies as well as entertainments.
  • The Great Dickens Christmas Fair has been held in San Francisco, California, since the 1970s. During the four or five weekends before Christmas, over 500 costumed performers mingle with and entertain thousands of visitors amidst the recreated full-scale blocks of Dickensian London in over 90000 square feet (8,361.3 m²) of public area. This is the oldest, largest, and most successful of the modern Dickens festivals outside England. Many (including the Martin Harris who acts in the Rochester festival and flies out from London to play Scrooge every year in SF) say it is the most impressive in the world.
  • Dickens on The Strand in Galveston
    Galveston, Texas
    Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. , the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of...

    , Texas, is a holiday festival held on the first weekend in December since 1974, where bobbies, Beefeaters and the "Queen" herself are on hand to recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Many festival volunteers and attendees dress in Victorian attire and bring the world of Dickens to life.
  • The Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council holds a Dickens Festival in the Village of Port Jefferson
    Port Jefferson, New York
    The Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson is located in the town of Brookhaven in Suffolk County, New York on the North Shore of Long Island. As of the 2000 United States Census, the village population was 7,837...

    , New York each year. In 2009, the Dickens Festival was 4 December, 5 and 6 December. It includes many events, along with a troupe of street performers who bring an authentic Dickensian atmosphere to the town.

Other memorials


Charles Dickens was commemorated on the Series E £10 note issued by the Bank of England
Bank of England note issues
The Bank of England, which is now the Central Bank of the United Kingdom, has issued banknotes since 1694. Since 1970, its new series of notes have featured portraits of British historical figures. Of the eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the UK, only the Bank of England can issue...

 which was in circulation in the UK between 1992 and 2003. Dickens appeared on the reverse of the note accompanied by a scene from The Pickwick Papers.

Notable works



Charles Dickens published over a dozen major novels, a large number of short stories (including a number of Christmas-themed stories), a handful of plays, and several non-fiction books. Dickens's novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines, then reprinted in standard book formats.

Novels

  • The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
    The Pickwick Papers
    The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any...

    (Monthly serial, April 1836 to November 1837)
  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist
    Oliver Twist
    Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

    (Monthly serial in Bentley's Miscellany, February 1837 to April 1839)
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Monthly serial, April 1838 to October 1839)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
    The Old Curiosity Shop
    The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel by Charles Dickens. The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London....

    (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 25 April 1840, to 6 February 1841)
  • Barnaby Rudge
    Barnaby Rudge
    Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty is a historical novel by British novelist Charles Dickens. Barnaby Rudge was one of two novels that Dickens published in his short-lived weekly serial Master Humphrey's Clock...

    : A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty
    (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February 1841, to 27 November 1841)
  • The Christmas books:
    • A Christmas Carol
      A Christmas Carol
      A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge's ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of...

      (1843)
    • The Chimes
      The Chimes
      The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In, a short novel by Charles Dickens, was written and published in 1844, one year after A Christmas Carol and one year before The Cricket on the Hearth...

      (1844)
    • The Cricket on the Hearth
      The Cricket on the Hearth
      The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home is a novella by Charles Dickens, published by Bradbury and Evans, and released 20  December 1845 with illustrations by Daniel Maclise, John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield and Edwin Henry Landseer. Dickens began writing the book around...

      (1845)
    • The Battle of Life
      The Battle of Life
      The Battle of Life: A Love Story is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in 1846. It is the fourth of his five "Christmas Books", coming after The Cricket on the Hearth and followed by The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain....

      (1846)
    • The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848)
  • The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
    Martin Chuzzlewit
    The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a novel by Charles Dickens, considered the last of his picaresque novels. It was originally serialized between 1843-1844. Dickens himself proclaimed Martin Chuzzlewit to be his best work, but it was one of his least popular novels...

    (Monthly serial, January 1843 to July 1844)
  • Dombey and Son
    Dombey and Son
    Dombey and Son is a novel by the Victorian author Charles Dickens. It was first published in monthly parts between October 1846 and April 1848 with the full title Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation...

    (Monthly serial, October 1846 to April 1848)
  • David Copperfield
    David Copperfield (novel)
    The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery , commonly referred to as David Copperfield, is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial...

    (Monthly serial, May 1849 to November 1850)
  • Bleak House
    Bleak House
    Bleak House is the ninth novel by Charles Dickens, published in twenty monthly installments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon...

    (Monthly serial, March 1852 to September 1853)
  • Hard Times: For These Times
    Hard Times
    Hard Times - For These Times is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1854. The book appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times....

    (Weekly serial in Household Words, 1 April 1854, to 12 August 1854)
  • Little Dorrit
    Little Dorrit
    Little Dorrit is a serial novel by Charles Dickens published originally between 1855 and 1857. It is a work of satire on the shortcomings of the government and society of the period....

    (Monthly serial, December 1855 to June 1857)
  • A Tale of Two Cities
    A Tale of Two Cities
    A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature....

    (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 30 April 1859, to 26 November 1859)
  • Great Expectations
    Great Expectations
    Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published in serial form in the publication All the Year Round from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. It has been adapted for stage and screen over 250 times....

    (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 to 3 August 1861)
  • Our Mutual Friend
    Our Mutual Friend
    Our Mutual Friend is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is one of his most sophisticated works, combining psychological insight with social analysis. It centres on, in the words of critic J. Hillis Miller, "money, money, money, and what money can make of life" but is also about human...

    (Monthly serial, May 1864 to November 1865)
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
    The Mystery of Edwin Drood
    The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens' death, and his intended ending for it remains unknown. Though the novel is named after the character Edwin Drood, the story focuses on Drood's uncle, choirmaster John Jasper, who...

    (Monthly serial, April 1870 to September 1870. Only six of twelve planned numbers completed)

  • Short story collections

    • Sketches by Boz
      Sketches by Boz
      Sketches by "Boz," Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People is a collection of short pieces published by Charles Dickens in 1836 accompanied by illustrations by George Cruikshank. The 56 sketches concern London scenes and people and are divided into four sections: "Our Parish",...

      (1836)
    • The Mudfog Papers
      The Mudfog Papers
      The Mudfog Papers was written by Victorian era novelist Charles Dickens and published from 1837–38 in the monthly literary serial Bentley's Miscellany, which he then edited....

      (1837) in Bentley's Miscellany magazine
    • Reprinted Pieces (1861)
    • The Uncommercial Traveller
      The Uncommercial Traveller
      The Uncommercial Traveller is a collection of literary sketches and reminiscences written by Charles Dickens.In 1859 Dickens founded a new journal called All the Year Round and the Uncommercial Traveller articles would be among his main contributions...

      (1860–1869)

      Christmas numbers of Household Words magazine:
      • What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older (1851)
      • A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1852)
      • Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1853)
      • The Seven Poor Travellers (1854)
      • The Holly-Tree Inn (1855)
      • The Wreck of the "Golden Mary" (1856)
      • The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857)
      • A House to Let
        A House to Let
        "A House to Let" is a short story by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter. It was originally published in 1858 in the Christmas edition of Dickens' Household Words magazine...

        (1858)

      Christmas numbers of All the Year Round magazine:
      • The Haunted House (1859)
      • A Message From the Sea (1860)
      • Tom Tiddler's Ground (1861)
      • Somebody's Luggage (1862)
      • Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings (1863)
      • Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy (1864)
      • Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions (1865)
      • Mugby Junction
        Mugby Junction
        Mugby Junction was a set of short stories by Charles Dickens written in 1866. It was first published in a Christmas edition of the magazine All The Year Round....

        (1866)
      • No Thoroughfare
        No Thoroughfare
        No Thoroughfare is a stage play and novel by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, both released in December 1867.-Background:In 1867 Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins collaborated to produce a stage play titled No Thoroughfare: A Drama: In Five Acts. This was the last stage production to be...

        (1867)

    Selected non-fiction, poetry, and plays

    • The Village Coquettes (Plays, 1836)
    • The Fine Old English Gentleman (poetry, 1841)
    • Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi
      Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi
      Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi is the autobiography of the nineteenth-century clown Joseph Grimaldi.-Provenance:The book's accuracy is not entirely clear, since it went through a number of revisions, not all with Grimaldi's input. Grimaldi's original manuscript, which he mostly dictated, was about 400...

      (1838)
    • American Notes
      American Notes
      American Notes for General Circulation is a travelogue by Charles Dickens detailing his trip to North America from January to June, 1842. While there he acted as a critical observer of these societies almost as if returning a status report on their progress...

      : For General Circulation
      (1842)
    • Pictures from Italy
      Pictures from Italy
      Pictures from Italy is a travelogue by Charles Dickens, written in 1846. The book reveals the concerns of its author as he presents, according to Kate Flint, the country "like a chaotic magic-lantern show, fascinated both by the spectacle it offers, and by himself as spectator".-Background:In...

      (1846)
  • The Life of Our Lord: As written for his children
    The Life of Our Lord
    The Life of Our Lord was written by English novelist Charles Dickens for his young children between 1846 and 1849, at about the time that he was writing David Copperfield. It was published in 1934, sixty-four years after Dickens's death....

    (1849)
  • A Child's History of England
    A Child's History of England
    A Child's History of England is a book by Charles Dickens. It first appeared in serial form in Household Words, running from January 25, 1851 to December 10, 1853. Dickens also published the work in book form in three volumes: the first volume on December 20, 1851; the second, December 25, 1852;...

    (1853)
  • The Frozen Deep (play, 1857)
  • Speeches, Letters and Sayings (1870)

  • Further reading

    • Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert, "Becoming Dickens 'The Invention of a Novelist'", London: Harvard University Press, 2011
    • Johnson, Edgar, Charles Dickens: his tragedy and triumph, New York : Simon and Schuster, 1952. In two volumes.
    • Tomalin, Claire, Charles Dickens: A Life, Penguin Press HC, The, 2011.

    External links



    Works

    , HTML and plain text versions.
    • Works by or about Charles Dickens at Internet Archive
      Internet Archive
      The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

       and Google Books. Scanned books.
    • Works by Charles Dickens at EveryAuthor, HTML versions.
    • Works by Charles Dickens at Dickens Literature, HTML versions.
    • Works by Charles Dickens at Penn State University Electronic Classics Series, PDF versions.

    Organizations and portals


    Museums

    • Dickens Museum Situated in a former Dickens House
      Charles Dickens Museum, London
      The Charles Dickens Museum is at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London Borough of Camden, England. It occupies a typical Georgian terraced house which was Charles Dickens' home from March 25, 1837 to December 1839...

      , 48 Doughty Street
      Doughty Street
      Doughty Street is a broad tree lined street in the Holborn district of the London Borough of Camden. The southern part is a continuation of the short John Street, which comes off Theobalds Road. The northern part crosses Guilford Street and ends at Mecklenburgh Square.The street contains mainly...

      , London, WC1
    • Dickens Museum Virtual Tour
    • Dickens Birthplace Museum Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth

    Other