Charles Dickens
American Notes
Barnaby Rudge
Bleak House
A Christmas Carol
David Copperfield
David Copperfield - Study Guide
Dombey and Son
The Goblins who Stole a Sexton
Great Expectations
Great Expectations - Study Guide
Hard Times
Little Dorrit
Martin Chuzzlewit
Nicholas Nickleby
The Old Curiosity Shop
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist - Study Guide
Our Mutual Friend
The Pickwick Papers
Tale of Two Cities
Tale of Two Cities - Study Guide
The Bagman's Story
The Old Man's Tale about the Queer Client


"The one great principle of English law is to make business for itself" (Bleak House)

Charles John Huffman Dickens was born in Portsmouth to a clerk who worked in the office responsible for navy salaries. His first, and happiest, years were spent at Chatham. However, his father was imprisoned in the Marshalsea prison for debtors and at age twelve he began working in a blacking warehouse. It was a miserable time for the young Dickens, and its themes recur frequently in his novels, where the Marshalsea itself features, and the mistreatment of children and child labour are common subjects. Subsequently, he worked as an office boy, then studied shorthand and reported House of Commons debates for the Morning Chronicle.

Dickens's first literary works emerged in the Monthly Magazine and Evening Chronicle in the early to mid- 1830s and were later published as Sketches by 'Boz' (1836-7). These aroused interest from Chapman and Hall who published Dickens's first novel, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in twenty monthly parts between April 1836 and 1837. Pickwick gradually began to sell extremely well and Dickens - aged only twenty-five - was looking at a life of great success with his wife Catherine Hogarth. Dickens was extremely fond of Catherine's sister Mary and even requested (unsuccessfully) to be buried next to her when he died, after she passed away a year after she had moved in with the young couple in 1836.

Dickens became the first editor of Bentley's Magazine in 1837 and began to publish Oliver Twist and then Nicholas Nickleby in its pages, again in monthly numbers. A new Dickens weekly, Master Humphrey's Clock was introduced in 1840 where Dickens intended to publish not only novels but also brief sketches. However, after the success of Master Humphrey novels The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1) and Barnaby Rudge (1841), the linking idea was scrapped. 1842 saw Dickens visit America where he was well received, but his American Notes (1842) was considered offensive by Americans, and Martin Chuzzlewit's stereotyping of the American character did nothing to improve their low opinion of the writer.

The relative lack of success experienced by Martin Chuzzlewit did not last long, however, since sales were considerable for A Christmas Carol (1843, the first of his Christmas series that included The Chimes and The Haunted Man). A trip to Italy in 1844 was followed by another to Switzerland in 1846 where he began work on Dombey and Son (1848) that signally the start of the greatest period in his writing. In the next decade he wrote David Copperfield (1849-50), Bleak House (1852-3), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1855-7) and A Tale of Two Cities (1859). During this period, Dickens separated from his wife and had to quell rumours about his relationship with his sister-in-law Georgina. Ignoring the scandal and protesting his innocence, he took to passionate and popular dramatic appearances reading selections from his books where he would sometimes get become so excited that he would faint.

His final novels, Great Expectations (1860-1) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-5) kept up the extraordinarily high standard of but marked a slowing down of his prolific muse, and he did not publish another novel in his lifetime (The Mystery of Edwin Drood was unfinished at his death). One reason for this decline may have been the shocking train ride in 1864 where the train carrying Dickens and his half-finished Our Mutual Friend manuscript derailed, throwing half its carriages off a bridge. After this event, he is said to have been more agitated when writing. He made a final visit to America in the late 1860s for further readings but after his return died suddenly in 1870. He is buried at Westminster Abbey.

Landow's Homepage Resource site for this famous british author. Features literary studies of Dickens works, including characterization, imagery, genre, and themes. etc.
Charles Dickens Gad's Hill Place Including his emporium, his life, his work and quotes
Matsuoka's Homepage Elaborate and extensive set of links to all different things about Charles Dickens, including the Dickens Society, mailing and discussion lists, etc.
The Dickens Project from University of California Devoted to promoting the study and enjoyment of the life, times and work of Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens LIVE A site to create the staged readings in an effort to entertain audience
The Charles Dickens WebRing Resource with a lot of further information and links

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