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Writer : Charles Dickens

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Biography of Charles Dickens

Regarding "Oliver Twist" and "Great Expectations," one word comes to mind: Charles Dickens. So, let's explore this novelist's life, history, and literary contribution. 

Who was Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was a famous English novelist and social critic of the 19th century. He is considered one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era. He is also known for his vivid characters, complex plots, and sharp social commentary. 

Early Life and Education

Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England. He was the second of eight children born to John Dickens, a naval clerk with dreams of fortune, and Elizabeth Barrow, who aspired to become a teacher. The Dickens family encountered financial hardship during Charles's early years but remained close-knit and joyful.

In 1816, the family migrated to Chatham, Kent, where young Charles and his siblings enjoyed exploring the countryside and the Rochester Castle. Despite his frail health and inability to engage in sports, Charles was a reader from a young age, devouring books like Robinson Crusoe, Tom Jones, Peregrine Pickle, and The Arabian Nights.

The family's financial situation worsened, leading to John Dickens' imprisonment for debt in 1824 when Charles was 12. Charles lived with a family friend named Elizabeth Roylance during his father's imprisonment. This experience impacted Dickens, influencing his future writings and his empathy for the poor and working class.

After his father received an inheritance and settled his debts, Charles could return to school at the Wellington House Academy in Camden Town, London. The school offered poor discipline and inconsistent teaching, later inspiring some of Dickens' characters, such as Mr. Creakle in "David Copperfield."

Family and Children

In 1836, Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth, the daughter of George Hogarth, an editor of the Evening Chronicle. The couple had ten children together between 1837 and 1852. They were Charles Dickens Jr., Kate Dickens Perugini, Henry Fielding Dickens, and Edward Dickens. Their marriage faced challenges, and they eventually separated in 1858.

The separation coincided with a period of personal loss for Dickens, including the deaths of his infant daughter, Dora, and his father, John, in 1851. Dickens' personal life became complicated, and he entered into an intimate relationship with actress Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, which remained largely hidden from the public.

Poetic Career

Charles Dickens is best known for his novels; he also wrote poetry. Some of his notable poems include "The Ivy Green," "The Lost Arctic Voyagers," and "The Death of Little Nell," which was inspired by his novel "The Old Curiosity Shop." Dickens often used poetry as a means of exploring the themes and emotions present in his novels. Among the novels, "The Pickwick Papers" (1836-1837), "Oliver Twist" (1837-1839), "Nicholas Nickleby" (1838-1839), "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1840-1841), "Barnaby Rudge" (1841), "Martin Chuzzlewit" (1843-1844), "A Christmas Carol" (1843), "David Copperfield" (1849-1850), "Bleak House" (1852-1853), "Hard Times" (1854), "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859), "Great Expectations" (1860-1861) are prominent. 

Recognition

Charles Dickens achieved widespread recognition and acclaim for his works, which remain influential in English literature. He wrote a lot of novels, including "Oliver Twist," "Great Expectations," "A Tale of Two Cities," and "David Copperfield" Dickens' writing provided poignant portrayals of the struggles of Victorian England's poor and working-class people, contributing to social change.

One of his most enduring works, "A Christmas Carol," was published in 1843 and remains a beloved classic. The novella's characters, especially Ebenezer Scrooge, have become iconic figures in literature and pop culture.

Death

On June 8, 1870, Charles Dickens suffered a stroke at his home in Kent, England, while working on "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." He passed away the following day, on June 9, 1870, at 58. "Edwin Drood" was incomplete at his death, and only half of the plan had been written.

Dickens was laid to rest in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey. His former home at 48 Doughty Street in London has been preserved as the Dickens House Museum. This museum offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the beloved author.