Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was born in Portsmouth, England, but moved with his family to the central London district of Fitzrovia three years later. Due to family debts he began work at the age of twelve in a boot-blacking factory, but with the death of his mother his father was released from debtors’ prison and the young Charles Dickens eventually made his way to a school in Camden Town. By the age of twenty he had established himself as a law clerk and literary journalist. His first great writing success was the 1836 publication of The Pickwick Papers, followed by even greater successes such as David Cooperfield (1849), based largely on an autobiographical foundation of his own childhood struggles, and Bleak House (1852-1853), a novel admired by Franz Kafka. Dickens enjoyed reading his works aloud to the public, lobbied on behalf of children’s rights and expressed abolitionist sentiments after traveling to the United States. “With Tolstoy, Dickens is perhaps one of the two novelists who have been accepted by the whole world—and Dickens with the greater joy,” wrote U.S. author, editor, and radio personality Clifton Fadiman.

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