About Charles Dickens

Of course we all know that Charles Dickens is the author of David Copperfield, but he did accomplish other things in his life, believe it or not.

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Hampshire, England, the son of John Dickens and his wife, Elizabeth1. Dickens spent his young life in Kent and later in London. Though he generally had a positive view of his early days, he considered himself a "very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of-boy", being the second of eight children. Dickens found entertainment in exploring the outdoors and reading books, particularly those by Tobias Smollet and Henry Fielding. His parents lived lavishly, too lavishly for John Dickens' job as a clerk, and this habit eventually landed the head of the family in debtor's prison, at the Marshalsea prison. The rest of the family moved in with him, but at the age of 12 Charles was soon sent to the Warren Blacking Factory at the suggestion of his mother. This experience profoundly affected him, and Dickens made use of this time in his later novels as a period he very much resented.

Eventually the family landed on better times, and Charles was allowed to attend school at Wellington House. Upon graduating, he became a court stenographer and later a political journalist. Of course he also fell in love at this time - first to the beauty Maria Beadnell, although their relationship did not survive, and eventually he married the daughter of George Hogarth, Catherine. In March, 1836, Dickens wrote his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. It was an unexpected hit and became adopted into popular culture of the time. The success led to the serialization of Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Old Curiosity Shop. Dickens' popularity continued to grow as he gathered a wide audience, attracted by the broadly-appealing themes and actions in his novels. Though his early works were humorous and satirical, his stories continued to become less sentimental and harsher in theme as his career continued.

By the 1850s, Dickens was a star in both the UK as well as the United States. He had a successful career following the publication of David Copperfield, Bleak House, and Hard Times. But his personal life was floundering. Though they had ten children together, Dickens was growing apart from his wife, whom he found dull. This unsuitability led to a rarity of the time - the couple divorced in 1858. Dickens soon formed some kind of relationship with actress Ellen Ternan. As Dickens' life progressed, the writer grew more cynical due to problems with his family as well as difficulties maintaining rights to his novels. In 1865, he was severely shaken by the Staplehurst railroad crash - his experiences in helping the wounded and dying influenced his later works. During the crash, Dickens returned to the car to save his manuscript of Our Mutual Friend, his final completed novel. While working on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the overworked writer died of a stroke on June 9, 1870.

Charles Dickens' popularity has persisted for nearly 200 years. Like Shakespeare, Dickens was able to paint narratives and portray the human character with startling accuracy. Though he is often criticized for being too sentimental or too caricaturized, he also has a very distinctive, almost fantastic style. His characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Samuel Pickwick, Oliver Twist, and Uriah Heep are known even by people who have never read his books. Even today, he has devoted readers around the world, landmarks and societies dedicated to himself and his works, and a little corner of the web called Remember about his midpoint novel David Copperfield.