D is for Dickens


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?

The Influences Of Childhood Books

I came across an exercise recently in The Daily Writer which asked the following questions:

Think back to a favourite book from your childhood.
How did it affect you?
What did you learn?
Has it influenced your life?

I scoffed, I truly did! Yeah, like a book I read as a child could still be having an impact on me now? Ha ha ha, influenced my life? *mutter grumble* And then I wrote down in my notebook the 3 books that I loved the most in my childhood…

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Toms Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce


I had to go and reacquaint my self with these books. Gawd, I haven’t read them for 30+years! So I checked them out on Amazon and Wikipedia….and wow, it all came flooding back!

Ok, you may not be familiar with these so I’ll give you a brief outline of each…

Green Knowe is about a young boy, Tolly, going to live with his grandmother in a big old stately home (Green Knowe) where he meets the ghosts of children who lived there before.

Secret Garden, written in 1910, is about a little orphan girl, Mary who goes to live with her uncle in a big old manor house, where she finds a secret garden and a cousin who lives in the attic.

Midnight Garden is about a boy, Tom, who goes to live with his aunt in a big manor house built in the 1880’s and when the clock strikes 13 he discovers a beautiful garden and a little girl to play with.

There is a lot more to these stories but I don’t want to bore you…..check out the links if you want to know more 🙂

Those who know me (in real life) will know the following about me:
1. I wasn’t brought up in a traditional family environment.
2. I’ve always had a fascination with big old houses and stately homes.
3. I love the whole idea of ghosts, I’m always watching documentaries or reading books about them. I love ghost story films especially!
4. I find myself drawn to anything Victorian or Edwardian. I can have a table full of items and always pick the Victorian or Edwardian one without even knowing it is, because I like it the most.
5. I LOVE walled gardens! The last couple of houses we’ve lived in have had them and it was one if the reasons I liked them enough to live there!

Spooky huh? I’m sorry I scoffed now! Lol.

As an adult I find myself drawn to books that are based on historical events, people and settings. A fictionalised account of something real, or someone that once lived. I really should try to write one! Lol. Or perhaps I should try my hand at a ghost story? This has given me lots to think about 😉

Has a book from your childhood influenced your life?