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A biography of charles dickens a popular english novelist

See Article History Alternative Title: Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity during his lifetime than had any previous author. Much in his work could appeal to the simple and the sophisticated, to the poor and to the queen, and technological developments as well as the qualities of his work enabled his fame to spread worldwide very quickly. His long career saw fluctuations in the reception and sales of individual novels, but none of them was negligible or uncharacteristic or disregarded, and, though he is now admired for aspects and phases of his work that were given less weight by his contemporaries, his popularity has never ceased.

  1. In this way he got an education.
  2. Charles managed to escape the grind of factory work, by training to be a shorthand writer and gaining employment as a journalist — reporting on court cases. The same month, he was invited to provide a comic serial narrative to accompany engravings by a well-known artist; seven weeks later the first installment of The Pickwick Papers appeared.
  3. In the 1950s, a substantial reassessment and re-editing of the works began, and critics found his finest artistry and greatest depth to be in the later novels. This novel reverted to the Pickwick shape and atmosphere, though the indictment of the brutal Yorkshire schools Dotheboys Hall continued the important innovation in English fiction seen in Oliver Twist—the spectacle of the lost or oppressed child as an occasion for pathos and social criticism.

The range, compassion, and intelligence of his apprehension of his society and its shortcomings enriched his novels and made him both one of the great forces in 19th-century literature and an influential spokesman of the conscience of his age. Early Victorian England and Charles DickensClifton Fadiman examining the inspiration Charles Dickens's work took from the milieu of Victorian England, with its startling contrasts of morality and hypocrisy, splendour and squalor, prosperity and poverty.

Early years Dickens left Portsmouth in infancy. His happiest childhood years were spent in Chatham 1817—22an area to which he often reverted in his fiction. His origins were middle class, if of a newfound and precarious respectability; one grandfather had been a domestic servant, and the other an embezzler.

His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was well paid, but his extravagance and ineptitude often brought the family to financial embarrassment or disaster. Some of his failings and his ebullience are dramatized in Mr. Micawber in the partly autobiographical David Copperfield. In 1824 the family reached bottom. Charles, the eldest son, had been withdrawn from school and was now set to manual work in a factory, and his father went to prison for debt. These shocks deeply affected Charles.

Though abhorring this brief descent into the working class, he began to gain that sympathetic knowledge of its life and privations that informed his writings. Also, the images of the prison and of the lost, oppressed, or bewildered child recur in many novels.

Much else in his character and art stemmed from this period, including, as the 20th-century novelist Angus Wilson has argued, his later difficulty, as man and author, in understanding women: His schooling, interrupted and unimpressive, ended at 15.

These years left him with a lasting affection for journalism and contempt both for the law and for Parliament. His coming to manhood in the reformist 1830s, and particularly his working on the Liberal Benthamite Morning Chronicle 1834—36greatly affected his political outlook. Another influential event now was a biography of charles dickens a popular english novelist rejection as suitor to Maria Beadnell because his family and prospects were unsatisfactory; his hopes of gaining and chagrin at losing her sharpened his determination to succeed.

The same month, he was invited to provide a comic serial narrative to accompany engravings by a well-known artist; seven weeks later the first installment of The Pickwick Papers appeared. Within a few months Pickwick was the rage and Dickens the most popular author of the day.

Thus, he had two serial installments to write every month. Already the first of his nine surviving children had been born; he had married in April 1836 Catherine, eldest daughter of a respected Scottish journalist and man of letters, George Hogarth.

Charles Dickens biography

Finding serialization congenial and profitable, he repeated the Pickwick pattern of 20 monthly parts in Nicholas Nickleby 1838—39 ; then he experimented with shorter weekly installments for The Old Curiosity Shop 1840—41 and Barnaby Rudge 1841. Exhausted at last, he then took a five-month vacation in America, touring strenuously and receiving quasi-royal honours as a literary celebrity but offending national sensibilities by protesting against the absence of copyright protection.

Some of these feelings appear in American Notes 1842 and Martin Chuzzlewit 1843—44. Novels from Pickwick to Chuzzlewit His writing during these prolific years was remarkably various and, except for his plays, resourceful.

Pickwick began as high-spirited farce and contained many conventional comic butts and traditional jokes; like other early works, it was manifestly indebted to the contemporary theatre, the 18th-century English novelists, and a few foreign classics, notably Don Quixote.

But, besides giving new life to old stereotypesPickwick displayed, if sometimes in embryo, many of the features that were to be blended in varying proportions throughout his fiction: Rapidly improvised and written only weeks or days ahead of its serial publication, Pickwick contains weak and jejune passages and is an unsatisfactory whole—partly because Dickens was rapidly developing his craft as a novelist while writing and publishing it.

What is remarkable is that a first novel, written in such circumstances, not only established him overnight and created a new tradition of popular literature but also survived, despite its crudities, as one of the best-known novels in the world. His self-assurance and artistic ambitiousness appeared in Oliver Twistwhere he rejected the temptation to repeat the successful Pickwick formula. Browne ] for most of the other novels until the 1860s. The currency of his fiction owed much, too, to its being so easy to adapt into effective stage versions.

Sometimes 20 London theatres simultaneously were producing adaptations of his latest story, so even nonreaders became acquainted with simplified versions of his works. The theatre was often a subject of his fiction, too, as in the Crummles troupe in Nicholas Nickleby. This novel reverted to the Pickwick shape and atmosphere, though the indictment of the brutal Yorkshire schools Dotheboys Hall continued the important innovation in English fiction seen in Oliver Twist—the spectacle of the lost or oppressed child as an occasion for pathos and social criticism.

Like his later attempt in this kind, A Tale of Two Cities, it was set in the late 18th century and presented with great vigour and understanding and some ambivalence of attitude the spectacle of large-scale mob violence. Its American episodes had, however, been unpremeditated he suddenly decided to boost the disappointing sales by some America-baiting and to revenge himself against insults and injuries from the American press.

The invention of the Christmas books A Christmas Carolsuddenly conceived and written in a biography of charles dickens a popular english novelist few weeks in late 1843, was the first of these Christmas books a new literary genre thus created incidentally. Tossed off while he was amply engaged in writing Chuzzlewit, it was an extraordinary achievement—the one great Christmas myth of modern literature.

Charles Dickens, one of the greates

None equalled the Carol in potency, though some achieved great immediate popularity. Cumulatively they represent a celebration of Christmas attempted by no other great author. Dickens occupied the first and longest chapter, as manifestly the product of his age…a genuine emanation from its aggregate and entire spirit. Few public meetings in a benevolent cause are without him.

Dickens is, in private, very much what might be expected from his works.

  1. His family was able to leave the Marshalsea, but his mother did not immediately remove him from the boot-blacking factory, which was owned by a relation of hers.
  2. Though in a later essay by the socialist, George Orwell , Orwell questioned his lack of alternatives.
  3. Finding serialization congenial and profitable, he repeated the Pickwick pattern of 20 monthly parts in Nicholas Nickleby 1838—39 ; then he experimented with shorter weekly installments for The Old Curiosity Shop 1840—41 and Barnaby Rudge 1841. Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol and vivid.

He is also a great walker, and very much given to dancing Sir Roger de Coverley. He was indeed very much a public figure, actively and centrally involved in his world, and a man of confident presence.

He was reckoned the best after-dinner speaker of the age; other superlatives he attracted included his having been the best shorthand reporter on the London press and his being the best amateur actor on the stage.

Later he became one of the most successful periodical editors and the finest dramatic recitalist of the day. He was splendidly endowed with many skills. Few of his extraliterary skills and interests were irrelevant to the range and mode of his fiction. Privately in these early years, he was both domestic and social. He loved home and family life and was a proud and efficient householder; he once contemplated writing a cookbook.

To his many children, he was a devoted and delightful father, at least while they were young; relations with them proved less happy during their adolescence. A biography of charles dickens a popular english novelist friendships dating from his youth endured to the end, and, though often exasperated by the financial demands of his parents and other relatives, he was very fond of some of his family and loyal to most of the rest.

Some literary squabbles came later, but he was on friendly terms with most of his fellow authors, of the older generation as well as his own. Necessarily solitary while writing and during the long walks especially through the streets at night that became essential to his creative processes, he was generally social at other times.

He enjoyed society that was unpretentious and conversation that was genial and sensible but not too intellectualized or exclusively literary. High society he generally avoided, after a few early incursions into the great houses; he hated to be lionized or patronized.

John Forsterhis intimate friend and future biographer, recalled him at the Pickwick period: The quickness, keenness, and practical power, the eager, restless, energetic outlook on each several feature [of his face] seemed to tell so little of a student or writer of books, and so much of a man of action and business in the world.

Light and motion flashed from every part of it. He had no desire to be narrowly literary. A notable, though unsuccessful, demonstration of this was his being founder-editor in 1846 of the Daily News soon to become the leading Liberal newspaper.

The return to daily journalism soon proved a mistake—the biggest fiasco in a career that included few such misdirections or failures. A more limited but happier exercise of his practical talents began soon afterward: The benevolent spirit apparent in his writings often found practical expression in his public speeches, fund-raising activities, and private acts of charity. Dombey he made a more ambitious attempt than before at serious and internal characterization.

The engraving depicts the orphaned boy introducing himself to his eccentric aunt, Betsey Trotwood, who takes him in. David differs from his creator in many ways, however, though Dickens used many early experiences that had meant much to him—his period of work in the factory while his father was jailed, his schooling and reading, his passion for Maria Beadnell, and more cursorily his emergence from parliamentary reporting into successful novel writing.

Pecksniffand Scrooge are some others. Popular weekly miscellanies of fiction, poetry, and essays on a wide range of topics, these had substantial and increasing circulations, reaching 300,000 for some of the Christmas numbers.

Particularly in 1850—52 and during the Crimean Warhe contributed many items on current political and social affairs; in later years he wrote less—much less on politics—and the magazine was less political, too.

  • Moreover, he could earn more by reading than by writing, and more certainly; it was easier to force himself to repeat a performance than create a book;
  • Charles start going to school when he was nearly twelve, and his father was out of prison;
  • When he was ten, the family relocated to Camden Town in London.

The poetry was uniformly feeble; Dickens was imperceptive here. The reportage, often solidly based, was bright sometimes painfully so in manner. His conduct of these weeklies showed his many skills as editor and journalist but also some limitations in his tastes and intellectual ambitions. The contents are revealing in relation to his novels: Even in his creative work, as his eldest son said, Britannica Classics: Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, part 1Editor and anthologist Clifton Fadiman introducing dramatized scenes from Dickens's Great Expectations, establishing the setting, characters, shape, and themes of this classic novel.

Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, part 2Clifton Fadiman providing a critical interpretation of the story and probing more deeply into the relationships between the major characters of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. No city clerk was ever more methodical or orderly than he; no humdrum, monotonous, conventional task could ever have been discharged with more punctuality, or with more businesslike regularity.

Presenting a remarkably inclusive and increasingly sombre picture of contemporary society, they were inevitably often seen at the time as fictionalized propaganda about ephemeral issues. Similar questions are raised by his often basing fictional characters, places, and institutions on actual originals. Technically, the later novels are more coherent, plots being more fully related to themes, and themes being often expressed through a more insistent use of imagery and symbols grim symbols, too, such as the fog in Bleak House or the prison in Little Dorrit.

His art here is more akin to poetry than to what is suggested by the photographic or journalistic comparisons. Sparsit in Hard Times, but large-scale figures of this type are less frequent the Gamps and Micawbers belong to the first half of his career.

Beginning of a literary career

Even the juvenile leads, who had usually been thinly conceived conventional figures, are now often more complicated in their makeup and less easily rewarded by good fortune. Critics disagree as to how far so worldly a novelist succeeded artistically in enlarging his view to include the religious. These novels, too, being manifestly an ambitious attempt to explore the prospects of humanity at this time, raise questions, still much debated, about the intelligence and profundity of his understanding of society.

This desperation coincided with an acute state of personal unhappiness. He now openly identified himself with some of the sorrows dramatized in the adult David Copperfield: Why is it, that as with poor David, a sense comes always crushing on me, now, when I fall into low spirits, as of one happiness I have missed in life, and one friend and companion I have never made?

A painful scandal arose, and Dickens did not act at this time with tact, patience, or consideration. The affair disrupted some of his friendships and narrowed his social circle, but surprisingly it seems not to have damaged his popularity with the public.

Not until 1939 did one of his children Kateyspeaking posthumously through conversations recorded by a friend, offer a candid inside account.