Portal:Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens
Dickens in New York, circa 1867–1868

Charles John Huffam Dickens (/ˈdɪkɪnz/; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are still widely read today.

Born in Portsmouth, Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors' prison. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed readings extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens's literary success began with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. Cliffhanger endings in his serial publications kept readers in suspense. The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wife's chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens improved the character with positive features. His plots were carefully constructed, and he often wove elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha'pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.

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"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"
A Christmas Carol (1843)

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Great Expectations scan.jpg

Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens first serialised in All the Year Round[1] from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. The action of the story takes place from Christmas Eve, 1812, when the protagonist is about seven years old, to the winter of 1840.[2]

Great Expectations is written in a semi-autobiographical style, and is the story of the orphan Pip, tracing his life from his early days of childhood until adulthood. The story can also be considered semi-autobiographical of Dickens, like much of his work, drawing on his experiences of life and people.

Each instalment of it in All the Year Round contained two chapters, and was written in a way to keep readers interested from week to week, while still satisfying the need for resolution at the end of each installment. (more...)

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Charles Dickens circa 1860.jpg
Image credit: J. & C. Watkins.
Charles Dickens, circa 1860.

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  1. ^ How Great Expectations
  2. ^ Meckier, Jerome Dating the Action in Great Expectations: A New Chronology.
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