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Charles Dickens Biography / Autobiography / Memoir resources

Full Name: Mr. Charles John Huffam Dickens
Date of Birth: February 2, 1812
Place of Birth: Hampshire, England
Died: June 9, 1870
Place of Death: Kent, England
Classification: Artists & Entertainers

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Short Biography of Charles Dickens

Creating such memorable characters as Oliver Twist, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Fagin, Charles Dickens became a famous and worldwide novelist even before his thirtieth birthday. His private, upper-middle class life that briefly turned into poverty would later affect him and his writings.

The young Charles would spend the days of his youth playing outside and reading any books he could get his hands on. By the age of twelve, after his father had been put in debtor’s prison, Charles was put to work in a factory putting labels on jars in a boot-polish factory. These events came to affect how Dickens viewed the world, and the poverty-stricken are often major themes in his work. However, within four months, the family was doing well again after inheriting some money.

After his boot-factory days, Dickens went to work for a law clerk where in hopes he would become a lawyer. Young Charles found he hated the idea of becoming a lawyer and instead became a journalist. It was during this time that he began submitting his work to journals for publications using the penname Boz.

By the age of 23, he had released his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. The book brought him prestige as one of England’s newest genius writers. He then married Catherine Hogarth and over the next several years together, they would have ten children. Catherine was left to take care of the children as her husband made his rounds in worldwide literary circles and as a result was a major cause of their separation.

In a biography of Charles Dickens, partially written by Dickens, but compiled by John Forster and published after his death, much is revealed about his life as a boy and his marriage to Catherine. As they could not divorce, they decided to separate and Dickens would have the freedom to carry on with his writing and readings. It was in 1865, seven years after their separation, that Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst railway accident in which all but Dicken’s carriage were thrown off a dilapidated bridge being repaired. His writing became less prolific after the crash and Dickens soaked up the limelight of his fame by doing readings of his most-famous works in Paris and New York City.

Dickens published most of his novels in serialized formats. Journals containing his stories would be widely popular and accessible to people of all classes, thereby spreading his fame. By the time the novels were released, many already knew the stories, which did not decrease his sales. His most memorable novels are Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, and Bleak House. In his novels, readers enjoy deep characters, vivid plots, and a moral where good always wins over evil. It is said that his partly autobiographical novel David Copperfield lets readers see who the real Charles Dickens was.

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