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Charles Dickens's Biography

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Charles Dickens was born in Landport, a suburb of Portsmouth, in 1812.

The Dickens family fell on 'hard times' and in 1824 Charles Dickens's father, John was arrested for debt and sent to Marshalsea prison with the whole Dickens family except Charles.

Charles Dickens became a journalist. He also wrote sketches under the pseudonym 'Boz'.

Most of his works started as serialisations. Pickwick Papers appeared in monthly parts from 31 March 1836. It became incredibly popular.

The Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes provides these quotes which illustrate the great eagerness with which each instalment was awaited:

John Forster - The Life of Charles Dickens: "Here was a series of sketches, without the pretence to such interest as attends a well-constructed story ... and after four of five parts had appeared without newspaper notice or puffing .. it sprang into a popularity that each part carried higher and higher, until people at this time talked of nothing else, tradesmen recommended their goods by using its name, and its sale, outstripping at a bound that of all the most famous books of the century, had reached to an almost fabulous number...."

Aruthur [sic] Waugh - A Hundred Years of Publishing, being the story of Chapman and Hall Ltd: "The publishers of Pickwick soon found themselves in a net of annoyance from the ingenious spirits who managed to steal their market ... The bookshops began to bristle with continuations of Pickwick so ingeniously modelled on the original as to deceive at first sight all but the very elect. The clerks at 186 Strand had to meet perpetual inquiries as to whether The Posthumous Notes of the Pickwickian Club by one 'Bos' were really the work of Mr Dickens himself ... and one stage perversion after another caused infinite annoyance to Dickens ..."

Days after the first appearance of Pickwick Papers, Dickens married Catherine, the daughter of the editor of the Evening Chronicle, for which Dickens was a regular contributor.

Oliver Twist was published in Bentley's Miscellany in 1837-9, simultaneously Nicholas Nickleby was produced and shortly afterwards The Old Curiousity Shop.

Charles Dickens spent much of his adult life abroad but died suddenly at Gadshill near Rochester in 1870.

His novels, such as 'Hard Times', 'Great Expectations' and 'David Copperfield' captured the harsh world of nineteenth century England, its deprivation, and inequality.

Charles Dickens, sometimes with humour, sometimes with pathos, vividly illustrated the plight of the urban poor and the injustice prevalent at the time.

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