“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.”–Charles Dickons
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on this day in Landport, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England in 1812. Today is 201st anniversary of his birth.
He was the second eldest child in a family of eight. His parents were of modest means but dreamed of a bigger, better life. His father, John, was a clerk, Elizabeth wanted to be a teacher — but with 8 children afoot never made it to the head of the classroom. The family was always poor, sometimes destitute.
When Dickens was four the family moved to Chatham, Kent. Dickens and his brothers and sisters roamed “he countryside and explore(d) the old castle at Rochester.” [Biography.com] They were happy years, and Dickens attended school and read ferociously. But the good times did not last. John outspent his income and was sent to debtor’s prison at the Marshalsea debtors’ prison in London in 1824. Elizabeth and the younger children moved in with the father, but Frances, the eldest and Charles were sent to live with family friends.
So at 12 years old Charles Dickens was…
forced to leave school to work at a boot-blacking factory alongside the River Thames. At the rundown, rodent-ridden factory, Dickens earned six shillings a week labeling pots of “blacking,” a substance used to clean fireplaces. [Ibid]
John Dickens came into some money when his paternal grandmother died and he was released from the Marshalsea, but Charles’ mother didn’t let him quit the boot-black factory right away. The family had grown accustomed to his six shillings a week. He never forgave her for making him go back to dirt and rats of the factory. Eventually he was able to go back to school, this time to The Wellington House Academy. Unfortunately the experience was anything but pleasant. The headmaster was sadistic, the teaching haphazard and fellow students undisciplined.
At 15 he got a job as an office boy at a law office.
As it turned out, the job became an early launching point for his writing career. Within a year of being hired, Dickens began freelance reporting at the law courts of London. Just a few years later, he was reporting for two major London newspapers. [Ibid]
Dickens, who had a near photographic memory, stored all the experiences, the injustices, the cruelties, and the people he met in his head. They came out later on the pages of his novels. (Amy and her family live in the Marshalsea in Little Dorrit. David, Pip and Oliver relive some of his worst experiences in David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Oliver Twist.)
By 1833 he was being published under a pseudonym, “Boz,” in magazines and three years later his first book, a collection of articles, Sketches by Boz, was published.
He wrote often wrote serialization for magazines (sometimes magazines in which he had a financial interest) and then published the finished story in the form of a book.
Here’s a list of his books:
- The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
- The Adventures of Oliver Twist
- The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
- The Old Curiosity Shop
- Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty
- The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
- Dombey and Son
- David Copperfield
- Bleak House
- Hard Times: For These Times
- Little Dorrit
- A Tale of Two Cities
- Great Expectations
- Our Mutual Friend
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Christmas books:
- A Christmas Carol (1843)
- The Chimes (1844)
- The Cricket on the Hearth (1845)
- The Battle of Life (1846)
- The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain (1848)
If you are looking for a good Dicken’s dvd to watch during the snow storm we are promised this weekend I can recommend both Little Dorrit with Clair Foy and Matthew MacFayden or Our Mutual Friend with Keely Hawes and Steven Mackintosh.
- Happy Birthday Charles Dickens! (ahorseandacarrot.wordpress.com)
- Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens: A Timeless Letter of Advice to His Youngest Son (brainpickings.org)
- Today Is The Birthday Day Of… (thebusyteapot.com)
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