Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens
1812 -1870

Charles Dickens Biography

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Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, Hampshire, the second of seven children of John and Elizabeth Dickens. John Dickens was a clerk in the Naval Pay Office. He found it hard to provide for his growing family and in 1822 the family moved to Camden Town, London. In 1824 his debts were so great that he was imprisoned at Marshalsea prison and the family (apart fom Charles) joined him.

Charles found work at Warren's Blacking Factory. Six months later, a relative of John Dickens died and bequeathed John enough money to repay his debts and leave prison. There was enough money left to send Charles to school at Wellington House Academy. Charles was an average student and left school in 1827 age fifteen to work as an office boy in a firm of solicitors. Charles wanted to become a reporter and taught himself shorthand. In 1828 he found work as a court reporter in the Doctors Commons Courts.

By 1832 he had become a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons. Dickens became interested in social reform and started contributing articles to the radical newspaper, the "True Sun". In 1833 Dickens had his first story published in the "Monthly Magazine". Using the pen-name of 'Boz', Dickens also began contributing short stories to the "Morning Chronicle" and the "Evening Chronicle". These stories were so popular that they were collected together and published as a book titled Sketches by Boz (1836).

Dickens was commissioned by the publisher William Hall to write The Pickwick Papers in twenty monthly installments. After the success of Pickwick, Dickens embarked on a full-time career as a novelist, although he continued, as well, his journalistic and editorial activities.

Oliver Twist was begun in 1837, and continued in monthly parts until April 1839.

Nicholas Nickleby began in 1838, and continued through to October 1839. The first number of Master Humphrey's Clock appeared in 1840, and The Old Curiosity Shop, begun in Master Humphrey, continued through February 1841, when Dickens commenced Barnaby Rudge, which continued through November of that year. In 1842 he embarked on a visit to Canada and the United States in which he advocated international copyright and the abolition of slavery. His American Notes, which created a furor in America (he commented unfavorably, for one thing, on the apparently universal -- and, so far as Dickens was concerned, highly distasteful -- American predilection for chewing tobacco and spitting the juice), appeared in October of that year.  A Christmas Carol, the first of Dickens's enormously successful Christmas books appeared in December 1844.

During 1844 to 1847 Dickens and his family toured Italy, Switzerland and France.

Dickens returned briefly to London in December 1844, when The Chimes was published. 1845 also brought his thrid Christmas book, The Cricket and the Hearth. In 1847, in Switzerland, Dickens began Dombey and Son, which ran until April 1848. The Battle of Life appeared in December of that year. In 1848 Dickens published what would be his last Christmas book, The Haunted Man, in December. 1849 saw the birth of David Copperfield, which would run through November 1850. In that year, too, Dickens founded and installed himself as editor of the weekly Household Words, which would be succeeded, in 1859, by All the Year Round, which he edited until his death. 1851 found him at work on Bleak House, which appeared monthly from 1852 until September 1853.

Hard Times began to appear weekly in Household Words in 1854, and continued until August. In 1855 in Paris in October, and Dickens began Little Dorrit, which continued in monthly parts until June 1857. In 1859 he began a new weekly, All the Year Round. The first installment of A Tale of Two Cities appeared in the opening number, and the novel continued through November.

Our Mutual Friend was begun in 1864, and appeared monthly until November 1865. Dickens was in poor health, due largely to consistent overwork.

In 1866 Dickens embarked on a extensive series of public readings across England and Scotland and more in England and Ireland in 1868. His health was worsening but he continued with an American reading tour in 1868. His reading tours continued into 1869 until he collapsed due to a mild stroke. Reading tours were canceled but he continued writing and began The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

On 8 June 1870 he suffered another stroke after a full day's work on Edwin Drood and he died the following day. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 14 June 1870.

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