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 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. 2.
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
remained with him all his life. 3. Dickens attended school
off and on until he was 15 years old, 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, 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". This was the
beginning of his career. 6.
At 24, Dickens became famous and remained 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. In 1837, when Catherine's sister Mary,
died, 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 separated. 8
In his later years, he added two main additions to his
previous activites. The first was a series of public
readings and lectures which he began giving systematically
and the second was becoming a successful editor.
Dickens followed many career paths; he was a reporter , an
actor, a conjurer, a poet, a lecturer, and an editor. 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 move
to Australia. 11. Then about 1865 his health started to
decline and he died of a stroke on June 9, 1870. 12
Dickens's work, "Great Expectations" is about a guy who is
in love with a girl. The theme of a youth's 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 position.
His story line of "Great Expectations" is closely related
to his own 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 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.
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. Viking,
1977. World Book Encyclopedia, Random House, NY., 1990