Charles Dickens Essay
1932 Words8 Pages
Charles Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens is the greatest English writer that ever lived. He was one of the most popular writers in the history of literature. Surely no English author is so well known and so widely read, translated and remembered as Charles Dickens. He fame is well deserved. From the pen of this great author came such characters as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, Mr. Pickwick, and Little Nett.
Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth and spent most of his childhood in London and Kent, both of which appear frequently in his novels. Charles Dickens was the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. John Dickens worked as a clerk at the Navy pay office in Portsmouth. Charles, the…show more content…
Charles Dickens decided he wanted to become a reporter. He purchased a copy of Gurney's Brachgraphy and taught himself shorthand. At the age of sixteen, Charles Dickens found work as a court reporter.
Later he joined the Mirror of Parliament, a newspaper that reported the daily proceedings of Parliament. Perhaps developing the power of precise description made his creative writing so detailed, descriptive, and outstanding. Dickens became interested in the subject of social reform and started contributing articles to the radical newspaper, the True Sun. Despite having to charge the heavy tax imposed on newspapers, the True Sun sold 30,000 copies a day. In his articles, Dickens used his knowledge of what went on in the House of Commons to help make changes in parliament. Charles Dickens was pleased when Parliament eventually agreed to pass the 1832 Reform Act. In 1833 Charles Dickens had his first story published in the Monthly Magazine. Using the pen name of 'Boz', Dickens also began contributing short stories to the Morning Chronicle and the Evening Chronicle. These stories were so popular that they were collected together and published as a book entitled Sketches by Boz. In 1835 he met and became engaged to Catherine Hogarth. Dickens earned enough money to marry Catherine Hogarth on April 2, 1836. During the same year he became editor of Bentley's Miscellany, published the second series of Sketches by Boz, and met John
The defining moment of Dickens's life occurred when he was 12 years old. His father, who had a difficult time managing money and was constantly in debt, was imprisoned in the Marshalsea debtor's prison in 1824. Because of this, Charles was withdrawn from school and forced to work in a warehouse that handled 'blacking' or shoe polish to help support the family. This experience left profound psychological and sociological effects on Charles. It gave him a firsthand acquaintance with poverty and made him the most vigorous and influential voice of the working classes in his age.
After a few months Dickens's father was released from prison and Charles was allowed to go back to school. At fifteen his formal education ended and he found employment as an office boy at an attorney's, while he studied shorthand at night. From 1830 he worked as a shorthand reporter in the courts and afterwards as a parliamentary and newspaper reporter.
In 1833 Dickens began to contribute short stories and essays to periodicals. A Dinner at Popular Walk was Dickens's first published story. It appeared in the Monthly Magazine in December 1833. In 1834, still a newspaper reporter, he adopted the soon to be famous pseudonym Boz. Dickens's first book, a collection of stories titled Sketches by Boz, was published in 1836. In the same year he married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of the editor of the Evening Chronicle. Together they had 10 children before they separated in 1858.
Although Dickens's main profession was as a novelist, he continued his journalistic work until the end of his life, editing The Daily News, Household Words, and All the Year Round. His connections to various magazines and newspapers gave him the opportunity to begin publishing his own fiction at the beginning of his career.
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was published in monthly parts from April 1836 to November 1837. Pickwick became one of the most popular works of the time, continuing to be so after it was published in book form in 1837. After the success of Pickwick Dickens embarked on a full-time career as a novelist, producing work of increasing complexity at an incredible rate: Oliver Twist (1837-39), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39), The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge as part of the Master Humphrey's Clock series (1840-41), all being published in monthly instalments before being made into books.
In 1842 he travelled with his wife to the United States and Canada, which led to his controversial American Notes (1842) and is also the basis of some of the episodes in Martin Chuzzlewit. Dickens's series of five Christmas Books were soon to follow; A Christmas Carol (1843), The Chimes (1844), The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man (1848). After living briefly abroad in Italy (1844) and Switzerland (1846) Dickens continued his success with Dombey and Son (1848), the largely autobiographical David Copperfield (1849-50), Bleak House (1852-53), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1857), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1861).
In 1856 his popularity had allowed him to buy Gad's Hill Place, an estate he had admired since childhood. In 1858 Dickens began a series of paid readings, which became instantly popular. In all, Dickens performed more than 400 times. In that year, after a long period of difficulties, he separated from his wife. It was also around that time that Dickens became involved in an affair with a young actress named Ellen Ternan. The exact nature of their relationship is unclear, but it was clearly central to Dickens's personal and professional life.
In the closing years of his life Dickens worsened his declining health by giving numerous readings. During his readings in 1869 he collapsed, showing symptoms of mild stroke. He retreated to Gad's Hill and began to work on Edwin Drood, which was never completed.
Charles Dickens died at home on June 9, 1870 after suffering a stroke. Contrary to his wish to be buried in Rochester Cathedral, he was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. The inscription on his tomb reads:
"He was a sympathiser to the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world."