Charles Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth England and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the 19th Century. During his lifetime he wrote 16 novels (one remained unfinished) and numerous collections of short stories. He suffered from severe insomnia and is widely regarded as a genius, his novels remaining popular today.
Dickens first found success with “Sketches by Boz”, which were weekly pieces published when he was just 24 years old. From there he was approached by a publisher and the rest, as they say is history.
Often described as the greatest creator of characters since Shakespeare, they were often based on people he met as he walked the streets of London. The settings for his novels were also based on real places, and many still exist today (especially in Rochester where I live…lucky me!).
He wrote extensively about London, appalled at the conditions the lower classes were subjected to and campaigned for social reforms. He died of a stroke in 1870 (just up the road from me) at the age of 58.
My favourite Dickens Quotes:
“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before t will explain itself.”
“Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.”
“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”
“The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.”
“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”
Here’s a great video from a fellow Wrimo who went to visit the churchyard that inspired Great Expectations….one day I will do something like this :)
Dickens used his fiction as a springboard to highlight social abuse and deprivation in Victorian society, bringing the subject to the attention of the reading public. It’s generally believed that many of the reforms that were made during that period are down to Dickens influence. This got me thinking about how, as authors, it is easy to sound off about what we think is right and wrong about our societies, in a work of fiction. Personally, its not something I’ve ever done, consciously….yet, but an interesting concept that i’d like to explore…. Have you ever based one of your stories on a social problem you’d like highlighted?
- ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ by Charles Dickens (camlind73.wordpress.com)
- Can you spot a Charles Dickens sentence? (guardian.co.uk)
- Charles Dickens¿ or the world’s worst writer? Blind reading test found 48% couldn’t tell difference between literature great and ridiculed novelist (dailymail.co.uk)
- Charles Dickens (tellingtrails.wordpress.com)