Charles Dickens Biography:
Charles Dickens was very popular & most widely read author of his time. The words Dickensian and Victorian are almost interchangeable. His stories help change public and political attitudes to various issues during the 1800s. He was born in Portsmouth, one of seven children. The family moved towards London in 1815 when Charles Dickens was three. The move was made partly because Dickens his father John was badly in debt. Soon even selling off all the furniture, they owned couldn’t raise enough money. John was sent into one of London’s prisons for those in debt.
The marshal sees contemporary law meant that his entire family was sent in there with him. All except Charles, who went to live with a family friend. This incident left a severe mental scar on young Charles Dickens. He felt shame and anxiety over the whole thing. To help pay for his lodgings & to help clear the family debts, he started working in warrens blacking warehouse, a factory near to where London’s Charing Cross railway-station stands today.
For ten hours a day, the 12-year-old Dickens would package up tins of shoe polish and glue labels on them. He was paid six shillings a week equivalent to about 10 pounds in today’s money, the factory was a dirty stinking place alive with rats. Their squealing and the pattering of their feet would rise up through the rotting floorboards of room in which Dickens worked. The experience spurred his lifelong campaign against terrible living conditions of England’s poor. Dickens’ father managed to pay off what he owed when he inherited some money from a relative. The family was let out of prison but to Dickens his horror. His mother made him stay at the factory. Every last penny was needed. His dad’s imprisonment, his time at factory and his mother’s unexpected treatment of him would all horn Dickens for rest of his life.
You can see it in his novel “Little Dorrit” for example, in which the Marshalsea like an economic vampire. The events and emotions of that period are echoed many times in his stories. Eventually, Dickens was sent to an average private school where he was an average and rather mischievous people. He left at the age of 15 and following a brief spell is an office clock. Then he found work as a court reporter, writing up legal cases for a newspaper. He was something he enjoyed and which he was good at.
“The Pickwick Papers”
Through his career, he was enthusiastically involved in journalism. His 1st book was the collection of his reports, sketches by Boz. It was the name under which his articles appeared. His first novel “The Pickwick Papers” also published under “Boz pseudonym” came about almost by accident. He was requested to write some short pieces to go with the series of sporting illustrations. When the job fell through, he converted the work he had done into the early sections of the novel.
“The Pickwick Papers” was like almost all fiction at the time. First printed as a cereal in a magazine. It was an instant hit as soon as it’s serialization finished in 1836. Dickens followed it up with “Oliver Twist” then “Nicholas Nickleby” and “The Old Curiosity Shop”. For next thirty years, he steadily turned out a succession of hugely popular stories. Unlike most other writers, Dickens would compose his stories on the go. Usually, an author would write a complete story which would then be chopped up to appear in monthly or weekly episodes.
Dickens would write one episode at a time. Often changing things according to how readers reacted to earlier chapters. It was ticking Siskel in creating memorable and unusual characters which were his trademark.
His most distinctive feature as a writer characters like Scrooge, Mr. Micawber, Artful Dodger, Miss Havisham, Mr. Squeers, and many others are what stand out from his stories most of all. Most of them were actually based on people he knew or had met for example Mr. Micawber and David Copperfield were based on his father. It’s partly his vivid characters who made the campaigning aspects of his stories so effective.
His success allowed Dickens to buy Gads Hill place, a large house in Cent which he had regularly walked past as the child & dreamed of living in. He had been wedded since 1838. He & his wife had ten children but the marriage wasn’t a happy one and, in the end, they separated. However, they stayed married because there was no way in Victorian Britain that a public figure like Charles Dickens could get away with something as shocking as divorce.
From the late 1850s, Dickens toured all over Britain performing dramatic readings from his books. Audiences loved it. He went on similar tours to the USA. He was extremely good at putting on these shows but they were exhausting work and quickly affected his health.
On June 9th, 1865, traveling back from Paris. He was involved in a serious railway accident, many were killed or badly injured. After helping fellow passengers, he climbed back into wreck train to retrieve the one and only copy of his new manuscript. Although, Dickens himself wasn’t physically hurt. The accident shook him up severely.
From that point on the amount of writing, he did quickly decline. He finished the book he at rescued from the Train Our Mutual Friend but he never completed another novel. He put what energies he had left into his touring and his readings. His last performance was in March 1870 in London. By that time, he was very ill but he read whole of “A Christmas Carol” and scenes from “The Pickwick Papers”. His most successful book is probably “Tale of Two Cities”, a story about French Revolution which has sold over 200 million copies. His best book is probably “Great Expectations” but as an advertising motto used to say about the box of chocolates. Everyone is someone’s favorite.