D is for Dickens


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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?

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66 thoughts on “D is for Dickens

  1. Yes I have. I’ve set some around the theme of Homophobia (and two appear in my challenge) and I have another series set around social porblems but have not returned to writing them By the way J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter series has been compared to Dickens

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  2. I wrote a short story some years ago highlighting the problem of ingrained racism and how it can be dealt with — but I never before thought of comparing it to Dickens! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. I love Dickens too. Visiting the little graves in the churchyard that inspired Great Expectations was one of the most moving things we did on our Thames journey. My favourite of his books is Bleak House.

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    • He he he 😉 Well i live in the bloody town where he set a lot of his books and i haven’t read any either Rebecca! 😉 No, thats a lie, i did start one about 2 years ago but i haven’t finished it….yet lol

      Isn’t it just! 😦

      xx

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  4. Just followed the link to the Daily Mail article – reporting on a really irritating “study”. As if a writer can be judged from one sentence taken out of context. Pah! as a Dickens character might say

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  5. Great post Vikki 🙂 I wrote Can’t Live Without about materialism and how it’s not what we have but who we love that matters. The message is very hidden though 🙂 I think it helps to have ‘something to say’ when you start writing xx

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  6. With working conditions and life for the poor rapidly reverting to how they were in Victorian times, I think we can expect a new Dickens in the not too distant future! No, I haven’t written anything I feel politically strongly about, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t 🙂

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    • Hmmmmm, yeah, you’re right there Bel. At a recent agent talk i attended they were saying they are fed up with getting novels based on middle class people, so perhaps a Dickensian type novel is what is needed now.

      xx

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  7. I love Dickens and would also love to visit the grave yard though to be honest I usually end up wandering round graveyards wherever I go lol sadly I couldn’t see the video it came up as this video is private 😦

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    • Ha ha ha, i know what you mean Paula 😉

      Well, if you ever manage to get down here for a weekend i’ll take you there!

      Thanks for letting me know about the video. It seems that hes put all his stuff private. Ive tried getting hold of him but no reply yet 😦

      xx

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  8. Never realised Dickens originally coined the procrastination comment, I have always tried to spur myself on with it. However I’m supposed to be writing a marketing content blog right now, so I really should get back to work – 🙂

    (Just a few more blogs. Just a few more)

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  9. Another writer who really needs to be read to be fully appreciated – you only have to look at those quotations to realise that. Great post, Vikki (couldn’t see the video though, sadly).

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  10. I graduated college with a BA in English (with a writing concentration) <—that just meant journalism. Blah. But in the course of the 4 years, I took a number of English Lit classes. And in my senior year I had to take American Lit. I thought the whole class was an oxymoron because I never really considered Americans to have any sense of great literature….until I read Dickens! I ❤ him and his works.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Jai

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  11. I heard that he was paid by the word and that is why some of his works are so long and wordy. He certainly influenced many changes and other writers through the years. Happy D day!
    tm

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  12. I haven’t tried writing anything very socially-conscious yet… who knows, maybe one day. And I haven’t read as much Dickens as I ought, but from what I’ve read, I’m impressed by two things: 1) that he really is a master of character, and 2) he would have a hard time getting an agent today! 🙂 Much too wordy…

    Of the quotes you gave, this is my favorite:

    “My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

    Our time on this planet is so short. I’m not the worst procrastinator (my oldest daughter gets that award), but I know there are things I put off doing that I don’t have to delay (like working on the next shiny new idea). I need this quote stapled to my desk… or my head! 🙂

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    • Ha ha ha, thanks Colin, and yeah, you’re right about him not getting an agent today! Lol

      I do have a quote above my desk which reads…. “Never never never give up.” – Winston Churchill 😉 But I think I’ll add the Dickens too lol

      Xx

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  13. hi – really like Dickens – I haven’t visted any of his sites tho’ – my series is about the effects of climate change so I spose I am writing about something – but not even remotley as good as the master and I’m not sure the Potter books can be compared to him either:( However different tastes – different generation- good post are you enjoying the a-z:)

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  14. Funny, come to think of it, pretty much everything I’ve written has some social problem or another that is highlighted- mostly stuff like the bullied/defeated child becomes hero and (anti) homophobic themes.

    I have really enjoyed reading about all these authors- it’s a great theme that I look forward to following in the coming weeks!
    Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

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  15. I love Charles Dickens and what he did. He highlighted reality and the economy of the time. He showed characters as they were; not under imaginary circumstances. All of my stories, historical fiction included, are written based on reality and social conditions. The most recent story I published was about how kids deal with the term political correctness. Again, great post!

    ~ Becca

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