Yes, it’s Friday and I bring you another classic. Not sure one should say that there are classics that are more classics, but indeed you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who hasn’t heard of Charles Dickens, or his stories. Even if you haven’t read them, you’ll know what they are about, will have watched some of the adaptations (not only BBCs, but movies, etc), or surely watched the musical ‘Oliver!’ based on his novel Oliver Twist. Considered the Victorian writer per excellence, he’s forever popular.
There are very great and detailed biographies available, not only online, but also, of course, in printed form. I leave you a number of links to sites where you can read more about him. Only a few details:
He was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens. He went to school briefly but as his father was imprisoned for bad debt when he was very young (around 9) this cut his formal education short and the whole family (debts and ending up in prison were quite common at the time…Some things don’t change) was sent to Marshalsea, although Charles, instead, went to work in a blacking factory and had to bear appalling conditions. After 3 years he went back to school but he was marked by these experiences and they’ve been reflected in many of his works.
He began his writing career as a journalist and he worked in a variety of journals. In 1833 he became parliamentary journalist and three years later married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of an editor who had been publishing some of his sketches. Shortly after he started publishing ‘Pickwick Papers’ and his success continued.
As we all know he wrote many novels (see links below), and quite a few of them in a serialised format, publishing them in periodicals weekly. He was a model for current authors keen on getting feedback and interacting with the public, as it is known that he would modify characters and story plots according to the public responses to his stories.
He also drew inspiration from his life and people he met along the way and there is a wealth of information on the real life basis for some of his best known and loved (or hated) characters.
He didn’t only write novels, but also an autobiography, periodicals, travel books, plays, and run charitable organisations.
Dickens became well-known and loved in the lectures circle and the travelled twice to the United States (where he did readings of his own books but also talked against slavery), to Italy (with fellow writers Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins) and toured the UK on many occasions.
He left his wife in 1858 (they had 10 children) and maintained relationships with his mistress, actress Ellen Ternan (who was many years his junior). He died of a stroke in 1870 and he is buried in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.
BBC Biography page:
Wikipedia, of course:
The Literature Network:
The Complete Works of Charles Dickens. It has links to read his works free on-line.
Entry on Charles Dickens at the New World Encyclopaedia. Good links:
Biography.com (it even has videos!)
Imdb page with information on movie and TV versions. He is listed as writer of 338 titles!
Links to FREE works (see also above):
Free audiobook of A Christmas Carol
A Tale of Two Cities:
Oliver Twist (not currently available…Might be soon. Versions for very little available):
A Christmas Carol:
And something a bit different. I normally only add free links on the post about classical authors but…I could not resist. I’ve heard this audiobook of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Alan Cooke (a.k.a. Wild Irish Poet, Emmy award winner, writer, and a true master of voices, who’s also recorded an audio for me that I hope will be available soon) and thought I’d leave you a link. I think it brings it to life and I truly love it. The webpage also offers you a sample so have a listen and see.
Thank you for reading, and if you enjoyed it, don’t forget to like it, comment, share it, and of course, CLICK!
- Charles Dickens Quiz (go4quiz.com)
- A Christmas Carol: a novel by Charles Dickens (year8ise0mackay.wordpress.com)
- The Historic Meeting Between Dickens and Dostoevsky Revealed as a Great Literary Hoax (openculture.com)
- Charles Dickens: The Continuing Victorian Narrative (cusch.wordpress.com)