Charles Dickens biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
This greatest of Victorian writers was born in Landport, Portsmouth, on February 7, 1812. His father John worked as a clerk in the Navy Payroll Office in Portsmouth. The elder Dickens was transfered several times, first to London, then to Chatham, and finally, in 1822, back to London, where the family lived in Camden Town.
John Dickens was constantly in debt, and in 1824 he was imprisoned in Marshalsea debtor's prison (Southwark). Charles was forced to leave school at the age of 12 and go to work in a bootblack factory to help support the Dickens family.
It was his personal experience of factory work and the living conditions of the poor that created in Dickens the compassion which was to mark his literary works such as Oliver Twist.
Dickens worked as a Parliamentary reporter before finally moving on to The Morning Chronicle in 1834. His first published work appeared in Monthly Magazine in December 1833, and he followed it with nine more, penning his name as "Boz" to the last two articles. The pseudonym "Boz" was drawn from a pet name for his younger brother when they were children. In 1836 his articles were compiled and published as "Sketches by Boz".
Shortly after Boz was published, Dickens married, to Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of a co-worker at the Morning Chronicle newspaper. Together they had 10 children before they separated in 1858, but it was not Catherine but her younger sister, Mary, who was to prove the inspiration for many of Dicken's literary heroines. She remained to him an ideal of womanhood that found expression in his characters such as Rose Maylie (Oliver Twist), and Agnes Wickfield (David Copperfield).
Dickens was working on another serialised novel while Pickwick Papers was running. This work proved to be one of his most enduring, a tale of innocence amid the squalor of London's criminal classes, Oliver Twist, which was published from 1837-38.
The Charles Dickens Page (highly recommended)
Of interest: Dickens Fair - Anglophiles in Victorian costume recreate Victorian London
The Dickens House Museum
48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LF web site
Bleak House Museum, Broadstairs, Kent. web site
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British Heritage Awards
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