Charles Dickens

1812 - 1870


The Author


Charles John Huffman Dickens was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, in 1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office and had a poor head for money which causes financial difficulties throughout his life. In 1824, he was imprisoned for debt together with his family. Only Charles, at the age of twelve, was put to work at Warren's Shoe Blacking Factory to help support the family, sealing and labelling pots of blacking. The idyllic days of his childhood were over and he was rudely introduced to the world of the working poor. He lived in a boarding house and visited his father on Sundays. When his father was released, Charles's mother wanted him to continue to work at the factory. His father, however, rescued him from that fate, and between 1824 and 1827 Dickens was a day pupil at a school in London. He then found employment as an office boy in a firm of attorneys. In 1829 he became a freelance law reporter and in the same year he met and fell in love with Maria Beadnell, but their association ended after four difficult years. In 1832 he became a very successful shorthand reporter of Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons, and began work as a reporter for a newspaper, often travelling into the country to report political meetings. These experiences and observations were incorporated in his first book “Sketches by Boz” (1836). In the same year he married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of a publisher. The Pickwick Papers, published in 1837, became Dickens's first enormous success. But he worked with even greater intensity than before. It was in 1837, too, that Catherine's younger sister Mary, whom Dickens idolized, suddenly died. In 1842 Dickens arrived to an enthusiastic welcome in the United States and Canada. He toured through Italy and Switzerland and visited France several times. In 1857 he met a young actress, Ellen Ternan, and started a relationship with her that lasted until his death. In the next year he insisted on separating from Catherine, after 22 years of marriage and the birth of ten children. She moved into a separate home and lived there alone. Inside and outside literature Dickens's energy continued unbroken. He was unabled to rest or settle. His health was worsening and, against his doctor's advice, he embarked in 1867 on an American reading tour, which continued into 1868. Charles Dickens died from a stroke on 9 June 1870 in his summerhouse at Gad's Hill Place.



Epitaph: To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world.



The Works


Sketches by Boz    >>>


Sunday, under three heads    >>>


The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club    >>>

(Monthly serial, April 1836 to November 1837)

The Adventures of Oliver Twist    >>>

(Monthly serial in Bentley's Miscellany, February 1837 to April 1839)

Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi    >>>


Sketches of young gentlemen    >>>


The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby    >>>

(Monthly serial, April 1838 to October 1839)

The loving ballad of lord Bateman    >>>

(together with W.M.Thackeray, 1839)

Master Humphrey's Clock    >>>

(Two Volumes, 1840)

The Old Curiosity Shop    >>>

(Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 25 April 1840, to 6 February 1841)

Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty    >>>

(Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February 1841, to 27 November 1841)

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)    >>>

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit    >>>

(Monthly serial, January 1843 to July 1844)

Dombey and Son    >>>

(Monthly serial, October 1846 to April 1848)

Pictures from Italy    >>>


David Copperfield    >>>

(Monthly serial, May 1849 to November 1850)

American Notes    >>>


Bleak House    >>>

(Monthly serial, March 1852 to September 1853)

A child's history of England    >>> (Volume I)   >>> (Volume II)


Hard Times: For These Times    >>>

(Weekly serial in Household Words, 1 April 1854, to 12 August 1854)

Little Dorrit    >>>

(Monthly serial, December 1855 to June 1857)

A Tale of Two Cities    >>>

(Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 30 April 1859, to 26 November 1859)

Great Expectations    >>>

(Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 to 3 August 1861)

Our Mutual Friend    >>>

(Monthly serial, May 1864 to November 1865)

The uncommercial traveller    >>>


All the year round    >>>

(Volume I, 1868/69)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood    >>>

(Monthly serial, April 1870 to September 1870. Only six of twelve planned numbers completed)

Letters    >>>

To Mr. Thomas Mitton, June 13th, 1865 (The Staplehurst rail crash)





Charles Dickens (Wikipedia)

Charles Dickens bibliography