Charles Dickens: Biography
This report will talk about the life of a famous author, Charles Dickens. It
will tell you about his early, middle, and later years of his life. It will also
talk about one of his great works of literature. In conclusion, this report will
show a comparison of his work to his life.
Charles Dickens was born at Landport, in Portsea, on February 7, 1812. His
father was a clerk in the Navy Pay-Office, and was temporarily on duty in the
neighborhood when Charles was born. His name was John Dickens. He spent time in
prison for debts. But, even when he was free he lacked the money to support his
family. Then, when Charles was two they moved to London. 1
Just before he started to toddle, he stepped into the glare of footlights. He
never stepped out of it until he died. He was a good man, as men go in the
bewildering world of ours, brave, transparent, tender-hearted, and honorable.
Dickens was always a little too irritable because he was a little too happy.
Like the over-wrought child in society, he was splendidly sociable, and in and
yet sometimes quarrelsome. In all the practical relations of his life he was
what the child is at a party, genuinely delighted, delightful, affectionate and
happy, and in some strange way fundamentally sad and dangerously close to tears.
At the age of 12 Charles worked in a London factory pasting labels on bottles of
shoe polish. He held the job only for a few months, but the misery of the
experience remain with him all his life. 3
Dickens attended school off and on until he was 15, and then left for good. He
enjoyed reading and was especially fond of adventure stories, fairy tales, and
novels. He was influenced by such earlier English writers as William Shakespeare,
Tobias Smollet, and Henry Fielding. However, most of the knowledge he later used
as an author came from his environment around him. 4
Dickens became a newspaper writer and reporter in the late 1820's. He
specialized in covering debates in Parliament, and also wrote feature articles.
His work as a reporter sharpened his naturally keen ear for conversation and
helped develop his skill in portraying his characters speach realistically. It
also increased his ability to observe and to write swiftly and clearly. Dickens'
first book, Sketches by Boz (1836) consisted of articles he wrote for the
Monthly Magazine and the London Evening Chronicles.5
On April 2, 1836 he married Catherine Hogarth. This was just a few days before
the anoucement that on the 31st he would have his first work printed in The
Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. And this was the beginning of his career.
Then, at 24, Dickens became famous and was so until he died. He won his first
literary fame with The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Published in
monthly parts in 1836 and 1837 the book describes the humorous adventure and
misadventures of the English Countryside. After a slow start, The Pickwick
Papers as the book was usually called gained a popularity seldom matched in the
history of literature. 7
Then in 1837, Catherine's sister Mary, died. Because of her death Dickens'
suffered a lot of grief. This led some scholars to believe that Dickens loved
Mary more than Catherine. Catherine was a good woman but she lacked intelligence.
Dickens and Catherine had 10 children. Then later in 1858, the couple seperated.
His later years was basically consisting of two main additions to his previous
The first was a series of public readings and lectures which he began giving it
systematically. And second, he was a successive editor. Dickens had been many
things in his life; he was a reporter , an actor, a conjurer, a poet, a lecturer,
and a editor and he enjoyed all of those things. 9
Dickens had a remarkable mental and physical energy. He recorded all his
activites in thousands of letter, many of which made delightful readings. He
spent much of his later life with crowded social friends from arts and
literature. He also went to the theater as often as he could, cause he loved
drama. Dickens also produced and acted in small theaters to give public readings
of his work.10
Besides doing all this after his retirement he got involved in various charities
. These charities included schools for poor children and a loan society to
enable the poor to prove to Australia. 11
Then about 1865 his health started to decline and he died of a stroke on June 9,
The Great Expectations
This story talks about a guy who is in love with a girl. It is the theme of a
youths discovery of the realities of life. An unknown person provides the young
hero, Pip, with money so that he can live as a gentleman. Pip's pride is
shattered when he learns that he loses Estella forever, the source of his "great
expectation". Only by painfully revising his values does Pip reestablish his
life on a foundation of sympathy, rather than on vanity, possesions, and social
His work of Great Expectation is very related with his life. It deals with the
same problems he faced when he lost Catherine and how his life was before he
became rich and famous. He also created scenes and descriptions of places that
have longed delighted readers. Dickens was a keen observer of life and had a
great understanding of humanity, especially of young people. The warmth and
humor of his personality appeared in all of his works. Perhaps in no other large
body of fiction does the reader receive so strong and agreeable impression of
the person behind the story.
1. G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens The Last of The Great
Men, American Book-Stratford Press, NY., 1942 pg.19
2. Ibid, pg. 21-22
3. Johnson, Edgar, His Tragedy and Triumph. Rev. ed.
Viking, 1977, pg. 20
4. Ibid, pg. 27
5. World Book Encyclopedia, Random House, NY., 1990 pg. 193
6. G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens The Last of the Great
Men, American Book-Stratford Press, NY., 1942 pg. 50
7. World Book Encyclopedia, Random House, NY., 1990 pg. 193
8. Johnson, Edgar, His Tragedy and Triumph. Rev. ed.
Viking, 1977, pg. 53
9. G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens The Last of the Great
Men, American Book-Stratford Press, NY., 1942 pg. 167
10. World Book Encyclopedia, Random House, NY., 1990 pg.195
Chesterton, G.K., "The Last of the Great Men" American
Book-Stratford Press, NY., 1942.
Johnson, Edgar, "His Tragedy and Triumph" Rev. ed.
World Book Encyclopedia, Random House, NY., 1990