Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens
Kimberly Franklin

Charles dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. His parents, John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow, had a total of eight children and Charles was the second. His family had high hopes and dreams of having good jobs and becoming wealthy, but never actually got lucky enough to make those dreams come true. Charles and his family were happy, even though they were poor, until they had to move to a small town in London. The family’s financial situation began to get worse and Charles’s father, John, went into debt. He was sent to prison when Charles was only twelve years old.

Due to his father’s imprisonment, Charles was forced to leave school to work in a boot-blacking factory alongside the Thames River. The factory was run down and infested with rodents, but Charles earned six shillings a week to go toward helping support his family. Looking back on the experience, Dickens saw it as the moment he said goodbye to his youthful innocence. He stated that he wondered “how he could be so easily cast away at such a young age.” This all led up to his feelings of abandonment and betrayal from the adults that were supposed to take care of him. Soon after, Charles was relieved to find out that his father had come upon an inheritance and could pay off his debts and get out of prison. That meant that Charles could go back to school and regain his childhood. But when Dickens was 15, his childhood was ripped from him once again. He had to drop out of school and work as an office boy to help with the family’s income. He didn’t know at the time, but this job would one day help with his writing career.

Just a few years later he began reporting for two major London newspapers. And in 1833, he submitted sketches to various magazines and newspapers under the pseudonym “Boz”. In 1836, his sketches were published in his first book, Sketches by Boz. Dickens’ first success caught the eye of many, but Catherine Hogarth thought that it was amazing. Soon after, Charles and Catherine married and had a total of ten children before 1858 when they separated.

In the same year that Sketches by Boz was released, Dickens started publishing The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. His series of sketches, which were originally written as captions for artist Robert Seymour’s humorous sports-themed illustrations, took the form of monthly serial installments. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club became wildly popular with readers. In fact, Dickens’ sketches were even more popular than the illustrations they were meant to accompany. Around the same time, Dickens had also become a publisher of a magazine called Bentley’s Miscellany. In it he began publishing his first novel, Oliver Twist, which follows the life of an orphan living in the streets. The story was inspired by how Dickens felt as an impoverished child forced to get by on his wits and earn his own keep.

Over the next few years, Dickens struggled to match the level of Oliver Twist’s success. From 1838 to 1841, he published The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. In 1842, Dickens and his wife, Catherine, embarked on a five-month lecture tour of the United States, leaving their ten children at home with some friends. Upon their return home, Dickens wrote American Notes for General Circulation, a sarcastic travelogue criticizing the American culture and materialism with in it. In 1843, Dickens wrote his novel The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, a story about a man’s struggle to survive on the ruthless American frontier. The book was published the following year. Over the next couple of years, Dickens published two Christmas stories. One was the classic A Christmas Carol, which features the timeless protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge, who was a curmudgeonly old miser, who, with the help of a ghost, finds the Christmas spirit. During his first tour to the U.S. in 1842, Dickens designated...
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