A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations were best-selling books that received critical acclaim and endured to become classics and movies we all love. We’ve all known a Scrooge and sometimes perhaps been one. We’ve also been blessed by the pure love of a Tiny Tim and his wish for God to bless us all. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who has tempted the man in her life with the line from Oliver Twist: “please, sir, may I have some more?”
Miss Havisham in Great Expectations had an epic inability to let go after she was jilted on her wedding day. She is the poster child for a bitter, manipulative eccentric bitch.
Charles Dickens’ classics also include David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, Bleak House, Hard Times, The Pickwick Papers, and A Tale of Two Cities. His books have never gone out of print.
Charles Dickens’ tales were calls for equal access to justice and compassion for society’s most vulnerable citizens ~ especially abused children. He exposed hypocrisy and criticized social policy designed to brutally punish people for the crime of being born poor. He is a timeless champion for the underdog.
He was 25 years old when he published his first best-seller, Oliver Twist. He wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 in six weeks. The original manuscript is on display at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. Black & Blue author Anna Quindlen claims she makes a pilgrimage to be inspired by it every year at Christmas. Many of his books were first published in serial form ~ a marketing tool similar to today’s blogging.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born in Landport, Portsmouth, England on Feb. 7, 1812. At age 12, his father went to debtor’s prison and young Charles went to work. His transformed himself and his circumstances by writing compassionately and humorously about his experiences.
His pet raven Grip was Edgar Allan Poe’s inspiration for the poem “The Raven.” Grip has been preserved and is on display at the Philadelphia Public Library.
Mr. Dickens and his wife Catherine Thomson Hogarth had 10 children. In 1846, he founded Urania Cottage as a home for “fallen women.” In 1858, he left his wife for his mistress, actress Nelly Ternan. He died on June 9, 1870 at age 58 after having a stroke at his home, Gad’s Hill Place in Kent.
You can read more about Charles Dickens and the Dickens Bicentenary at:
Dickens 2012: Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Charles Dickens
NPR’s “A Tale of Two Centuries”
“Philadelphia Celebrates Dickens’ 200th Birthday,” San Francisco Chronicle
Original manuscript of A Christmas Carol at the Morgan, NYC
David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page, an on-line encyclopedia of all things Dickens
The Google Doodle: Famous characters from Dickens’ books
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