Effective Images of People and Places Created by Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in
Portsmouth. Dicken's childhood was not particularly happy one, and
many of the events he endured and people he met inspired his books.
The second child of a clerk in the navy pay-office, Dickens moved to
London with his family when he was two years old. His father was often
in debt, and finally in 1824 was sent to debtor's prison with the rest
of the family in Marshalsea. Dickens, on the other hand was put o work
at a shoe-blacking warehouse. Memories of this time haunted him for
the rest of his life.
Despite the fact his parents failed to educate him, Dickens worked
hard to learn shorthand and in 1827 became a solicitor's clerk. Then,
in 1829 until 1831 he worked as a court reporter. During this time he
was also a regular reader at the British museum.
He then reported on Parliament. There he gained a detailed knowledge
of London and its inhabitants. His interest in drama developed. In
1833 his first story 'A dinner at Poplar Walk' was published.
Dickens was a reporter for Morning Chronicle and became engaged to
Catherine Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth, editor of Evening
Chronicle. Dickens' second story, Sketches by Boz was then published.
By 1836 Pickwick Papers had begun publication in monthly parts,
Dickens would often end each chapter on a cliff-hanger so the reader
would want to know what happened next so therefore was enouraged to
buy the next instalment. Dickens then married Catherine Hogarth.
In 1837 Oliver Twist was published in parts in Bentley's Miscellany
magazine. It is Dicken's first story to focus on the abuse and
exploitation of children, a theme that would carry through many of his
books. When the episodes of Oliver Twist surrounding the death of
Nancy were published there were crowds on the docksides in New York,
eagerly wanting to buy the next instalment. Dickens also gave public
reading from his works and these were hugely popular. His wealth
allowed him to buy a large house, Gad's Hill, outside London, near
countryside identical to that described in the opening chapter of
The pressure of touring and the effort of public readings put a great
strain on Dicken's health and the doctor's advised him to stop. He
ignored them and he died in 1870 after collapsing at Gad's Hill.
When Charles Dickens was born the majority of the population lived in
the countryside, but the industrial revolution, which had been
underway for about sixty years, led to the rapid growth of cities. In
the cities the housing available to the poor was often apalling. So
while the majority of the population worked long hours in dangerous
factories before going home to squalor the wealthy few percent lived