120 Facts About Charles Dickens


Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic.

FactSnippet No. 553,440

Charles Dickens created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.

FactSnippet No. 553,441

Charles Dickens's works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime and, by the 20th century, critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius.

FactSnippet No. 553,442

Charles Dickens edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed readings extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, for education, and for other social reforms.

FactSnippet No. 553,443

The instalment format allowed Charles Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback.

FactSnippet No. 553,444

Charles Dickens's plots were carefully constructed and he often wove elements from topical events into his narratives.

FactSnippet No. 553,445

Charles Dickens's father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office and was temporarily stationed in the district.

FactSnippet No. 553,446

Charles Dickens asked Christopher Huffam, rigger to His Majesty's Navy, gentleman, and head of an established firm, to act as godfather to Charles.

FactSnippet No. 553,447

In January 1815, John Charles Dickens was called back to London and the family moved to Norfolk Street, Fitzrovia.

FactSnippet No. 553,448

When Charles Dickens was four, they relocated to Sheerness and thence to Chatham, Kent, where he spent his formative years until the age of 11.

FactSnippet No. 553,449

Charles Dickens spent time outdoors, but read voraciously, including the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett and Henry Fielding, as well as Robinson Crusoe and Gil Blas.

FactSnippet No. 553,450

Charles Dickens read and reread The Arabian Nights and the Collected Farces of Elizabeth Inchbald.

FactSnippet No. 553,451

Charles Dickens later imitated Grimaldi's clowning on several occasions, and would edit the Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi.

FactSnippet No. 553,452

Charles Dickens retained poignant memories of childhood, helped by an excellent memory of people and events, which he used in his writing.

FactSnippet No. 553,453

The family had left Kent amidst rapidly mounting debts and, living beyond his means, John Charles Dickens was forced by his creditors into the Marshalsea debtors' prison in Southwark, London in 1824.

FactSnippet No. 553,454

Charles Dickens later used the prison as a setting in Little Dorrit.

FactSnippet No. 553,455

Charles Dickens later wrote that he wondered "how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age".

FactSnippet No. 553,456

Charles Dickens's name was Bob Fagin; and I took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist.

FactSnippet No. 553,457

Small audiences gathered and watched them at work – in Charles Dickens's biographer Simon Callow's estimation, the public display was "a new refinement added to his misery".

FactSnippet No. 553,458

Under the Insolvent Debtors Act, Charles Dickens arranged for payment of his creditors and he and his family left the Marshalsea, for the home of Mrs Roylance.

FactSnippet No. 553,459

Charles Dickens was eventually sent to the Wellington House Academy in Camden Town, where he remained until March 1827, having spent about two years there.

FactSnippet No. 553,460

Charles Dickens did not consider it to be a good school: "Much of the haphazard, desultory teaching, poor discipline punctuated by the headmaster's sadistic brutality, the seedy ushers and general run-down atmosphere, are embodied in Mr Creakle's Establishment in David Copperfield.

FactSnippet No. 553,461

Charles Dickens worked at the law office of Ellis and Blackmore, attorneys, of Holborn Court, Gray's Inn, as a junior clerk from May 1827 to November 1828.

FactSnippet No. 553,462

Charles Dickens was a gifted mimic and impersonated those around him: clients, lawyers and clerks.

FactSnippet No. 553,463

Charles Dickens went to theatres obsessively: he claimed that for at least three years he went to the theatre every day.

FactSnippet No. 553,464

In 1830, Charles Dickens met his first love, Maria Beadnell, thought to have been the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield.

FactSnippet No. 553,465

Charles Dickens enjoyed mimicry and popular entertainment, lacked a clear, specific sense of what he wanted to become, and yet knew he wanted fame.

FactSnippet No. 553,466

In 1833, Charles Dickens submitted his first story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk", to the London periodical Monthly Magazine.

FactSnippet No. 553,467

Charles Dickens rented rooms at Furnival's Inn and worked as a political journalist, reporting on Parliamentary debates, and he travelled across Britain to cover election campaigns for the Morning Chronicle.

FactSnippet No. 553,468

Hogarth invited him to contribute Street Sketches and Charles Dickens became a regular visitor to his Fulham house – excited by Hogarth's friendship with Walter Scott and enjoying the company of Hogarth's three daughters: Georgina, Mary and 19-year-old Catherine.

FactSnippet No. 553,469

Charles Dickens began a friendship with William Harrison Ainsworth, the author of the highwayman novel Rookwood, whose bachelor salon in Harrow Road had become the meeting place for a set that included Daniel Maclise, Benjamin Disraeli, Edward Bulwer-Lytton and George Cruikshank.

FactSnippet No. 553,470

Seymour committed suicide after the second instalment and Charles Dickens, who wanted to write a connected series of sketches, hired "Phiz" to provide the engravings for the story.

FactSnippet No. 553,471

Charles Dickens ensured that his books were available in cheap bindings for the lower orders as well as in morocco-and-gilt for people of quality; his ideal readership included everyone from the pickpockets who read Oliver Twist to Queen Victoria, who found it "exceedingly interesting".

FactSnippet No. 553,472

Oliver Twist, published in 1838, became one of Charles Dickens's better known stories and was the first Victorian novel with a child protagonist.

FactSnippet No. 553,473

On 2 April 1836, after a one-year engagement, and between episodes two and three of The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth, the daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle.

FactSnippet No. 553,474

The first of their ten children, Charles Dickens, was born in January 1837 and a few months later the family set up home in Bloomsbury at 48 Doughty Street, London from 25 March 1837 until December 1839.

FactSnippet No. 553,475

Charles Dickens became very attached to Mary, and she died in his arms after a brief illness in 1837.

FactSnippet No. 553,476

Charles Dickens declared they were both to drown there in the "sad sea waves".

FactSnippet No. 553,477

Master Humphrey's Clock was shut down, though Charles Dickens was still keen on the idea of the weekly magazine, a form he liked, an appreciation that had begun with his childhood reading of the 18th-century magazines Tatler and The Spectator.

FactSnippet No. 553,478

Charles Dickens was perturbed by the return to power of the Tories, whom he described as "people whom, politically, I despise and abhor.

FactSnippet No. 553,479

Charles Dickens wrote three anti-Tory verse satires which were published in The Examiner.

FactSnippet No. 553,480

Charles Dickens's remained with them as housekeeper, organiser, adviser and friend until Dickens's death in 1870.

FactSnippet No. 553,481

Charles Dickens modelled the character of Agnes Wickfield after Georgina and Mary.

FactSnippet No. 553,482

Charles Dickens described his impressions in a travelogue, American Notes for General Circulation.

FactSnippet No. 553,483

In Notes, Charles Dickens includes a powerful condemnation of slavery which he had attacked as early as The Pickwick Papers, correlating the emancipation of the poor in England with the abolition of slavery abroad citing newspaper accounts of runaway slaves disfigured by their masters.

FactSnippet No. 553,484

From Richmond, Virginia, Dickens returned to Washington, D C, and started a trek westward, with brief pauses in Cincinnati and Louisville, to St Louis, Missouri.

FactSnippet No. 553,485

Charles Dickens persuaded a group of 25 writers, headed by Washington Irving, to sign a petition for him to take to Congress, but the press were generally hostile to this, saying that he should be grateful for his popularity and that it was mercenary to complain about his work being pirated.

FactSnippet No. 553,486

Charles Dickens's writes that he assumed a role of "influential commentator", publicly and in his fiction, evident in his next few books.

FactSnippet No. 553,487

Charles Dickens later wrote that as the tale unfolded he "wept and laughed, and wept again" as he "walked about the black streets of London fifteen or twenty miles many a night when all sober folks had gone to bed".

FactSnippet No. 553,488

Charles Dickens immediately sent a letter to Lewis Gaylord Clark, editor of the New York literary magazine The Knickerbocker, saying that Powell was a forger and thief.

FactSnippet No. 553,489

Charles Dickens did receive a reply confirming Powell's embezzlement, but once the directors realised this information might have to be produced in court, they refused to make further disclosures.

FactSnippet No. 553,490

Charles Dickens authored a work called The Life of Our Lord, a book about the life of Christ, written with the purpose of sharing his faith with his children and family.

FactSnippet No. 553,491

Charles Dickens disapproved of Roman Catholicism and 19th-century evangelicalism, seeing both as extremes of Christianity and likely to limit personal expression, and was critical of what he saw as the hypocrisy of religious institutions and philosophies like spiritualism, all of which he considered deviations from the true spirit of Christianity, as shown in the book he wrote for his family in 1846.

FactSnippet No. 553,492

In December 1845, Charles Dickens took up the editorship of the London-based Daily News, a liberal paper through which Charles Dickens hoped to advocate, in his own words, "the Principles of Progress and Improvement, of Education and Civil and Religious Liberty and Equal Legislation.

FactSnippet No. 553,493

Charles Dickens lasted only ten weeks on the job before resigning due to a combination of exhaustion and frustration with one of the paper's co-owners.

FactSnippet No. 553,494

Francophile Charles Dickens often holidayed in France and, in a speech delivered in Paris in 1846 in French, called the French "the first people in the universe".

FactSnippet No. 553,495

In late November 1851, Charles Dickens moved into Tavistock House where he wrote Bleak House, Hard Times (1854) and Little Dorrit (1856).

FactSnippet No. 553,496

When he and Layard were accused of fomenting class conflict, Charles Dickens replied that the classes were already in opposition and the fault was with the aristocratic class.

FactSnippet No. 553,497

Charles Dickens used his pulpit in Household Words to champion the Reform Association.

FactSnippet No. 553,498

Charles Dickens commented on foreign affairs, declaring his support for Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini, helping raise funds for their campaigns and stating that "a united Italy would be of vast importance to the peace of the world, and would be a rock in Louis Napoleon's way, " and that "I feel for Italy almost as if I were an Italian born.

FactSnippet No. 553,499

In 1857, Charles Dickens hired professional actresses for the play The Frozen Deep, written by him and his protege, Wilkie Collins.

FactSnippet No. 553,500

Charles Dickens fell in love with one of the actresses, Ellen Ternan, and this passion was to last the rest of his life.

FactSnippet No. 553,501

Charles Dickens was 45 and Ternan 18 when he made the decision, which went strongly against Victorian convention, to separate from his wife, Catherine, in 1858; divorce was still unthinkable for someone as famous as he was.

FactSnippet No. 553,502

Charles Dickens's first reading tour, lasting from April 1858 to February 1859, consisted of 129 appearances in 49 towns throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.

FactSnippet No. 553,503

Charles Dickens's continued fascination with the theatrical world was written into the theatre scenes in Nicholas Nickleby, but more importantly he found an outlet in public readings.

FactSnippet No. 553,504

In early September 1860, in a field behind Gads Hill, Charles Dickens made a bonfire of most of his correspondence; only those letters on business matters were spared.

FactSnippet No. 553,505

On his death, Charles Dickens settled an annuity on Ternan which made her financially independent.

FactSnippet No. 553,506

Charles Dickens was enthusiastic, and even planned a travel book, The Uncommercial Traveller Upside Down, but ultimately decided against the tour.

FactSnippet No. 553,507

On 9 June 1865, while returning from Paris with Ellen Ternan, Charles Dickens was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash in Kent.

FactSnippet No. 553,508

Charles Dickens later used the experience of the crash as material for his short ghost story, "The Signal-Man", in which the central character has a premonition of his own death in a rail crash.

FactSnippet No. 553,509

Charles Dickens based the story on several previous rail accidents, such as the Clayton Tunnel rail crash in Sussex of 1861.

FactSnippet No. 553,510

Charles Dickens managed to avoid an appearance at the inquest to avoid disclosing that he had been travelling with Ternan and her mother, which would have caused a scandal.

FactSnippet No. 553,511

On 9 November 1867, over two years after the war, Charles Dickens set sail from Liverpool for his second American reading tour.

FactSnippet No. 553,512

Charles Dickens performed 76 readings, netting £19, 000, from December 1867 to April 1868.

FactSnippet No. 553,513

Charles Dickens shuttled between Boston and New York, where he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall.

FactSnippet No. 553,514

Charles Dickens managed, of a contracted 100 readings, to give 75 in the provinces, with a further 12 in London.

FactSnippet No. 553,515

Charles Dickens collapsed on 22 April 1869, at Preston, Lancashire; on doctor's advice, the tour was cancelled.

FactSnippet No. 553,516

On 8 June 1870, Charles Dickens had another stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood.

FactSnippet No. 553,517

Charles Dickens never regained consciousness and, the next day, he died at Gads Hill Place.

FactSnippet No. 553,518

Biographer Claire Tomalin has suggested Charles Dickens was actually in Peckham when he had had the stroke and his mistress Ellen Ternan and her maids had him taken back to Gads Hill so that the public would not know the truth about their relationship.

FactSnippet No. 553,519

Charles Dickens was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world.

FactSnippet No. 553,520

On Sunday, 19 June 1870, five days after Charles Dickens was buried in the Abbey, Dean Arthur Penrhyn Stanley delivered a memorial elegy, lauding "the genial and loving humorist whom we now mourn", for showing by his own example "that even in dealing with the darkest scenes and the most degraded characters, genius could still be clean, and mirth could be innocent".

FactSnippet No. 553,521

Charles Dickens bequeathed £19 19s to each servant in his employment at the time of his death.

FactSnippet No. 553,522

Fielding's Tom Jones was a major influence on the 19th-century novelist including Charles Dickens, who read it in his youth and named a son Henry Fielding Charles Dickens after him.

FactSnippet No. 553,523

In 1838 Charles Dickens travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon and visited the house in which Shakespeare was born, leaving his autograph in the visitors' book.

FactSnippet No. 553,524

Charles Dickens would draw on this experience in his next work, Nicholas Nickleby, expressing the strength of feeling experienced by visitors to Shakespeare's birthplace: the character Mrs Wititterly states, "I don't know how it is, but after you've seen the place and written your name in the little book, somehow or other you seem to be inspired; it kindles up quite a fire within one.

FactSnippet No. 553,525

Charles Dickens's writing style is marked by a profuse linguistic creativity.

FactSnippet No. 553,526

Charles Dickens worked intensively on developing arresting names for his characters that would reverberate with associations for his readers and assist the development of motifs in the storyline, giving what one critic calls an "allegorical impetus" to the novels' meanings.

FactSnippet No. 553,527

Charles Dickens's literary style is a mixture of fantasy and realism.

FactSnippet No. 553,528

Charles Dickens briefed the illustrator on plans for each month's instalment so that work could begin before he wrote them.

FactSnippet No. 553,529

Charles Dickens employs Cockney English in many of his works, denoting working-class Londoners.

FactSnippet No. 553,530

Charles Dickens's characters were often so memorable that they took on a life of their own outside his books.

FactSnippet No. 553,531

Charles Dickens described London as a magic lantern, inspiring the places and people in many of his novels.

FactSnippet No. 553,532

Charles Dickens was known to regularly walk at least a dozen miles per day, and once wrote, "If I couldn't walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.

FactSnippet No. 553,533

Charles Dickens's father was sent to prison for debt and this became a common theme in many of his books, with the detailed depiction of life in the Marshalsea prison in Little Dorrit resulting from Charles Dickens's own experiences of the institution.

FactSnippet No. 553,534

Pioneer of the serial publication of narrative fiction, Charles Dickens wrote most of his major novels in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey's Clock and Household Words, later reprinted in book form.

FactSnippet No. 553,535

Charles Dickens toned down melodramatic and sensationalist exaggerations, cut long passages, and made suggestions about plot and character.

FactSnippet No. 553,536

Charles Dickens had not thought of killing Little Nell and it was Forster who advised him to entertain this possibility as necessary to his conception of the heroine.

FactSnippet No. 553,537

Charles Dickens's novels were, among other things, works of social commentary.

FactSnippet No. 553,538

At a time when Britain was the major economic and political power of the world, Charles Dickens highlighted the life of the forgotten poor and disadvantaged within society.

FactSnippet No. 553,539

Charles Dickens's writings inspired others, in particular journalists and political figures, to address such problems of class oppression.

FactSnippet No. 553,540

Karl Marx asserted that Charles Dickens "issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together".

FactSnippet No. 553,541

Charles Dickens is often described as using idealised characters and highly sentimental scenes to contrast with his caricatures and the ugly social truths he reveals.

FactSnippet No. 553,542

Question as to whether Charles Dickens belongs to the tradition of the sentimental novel is debatable.

FactSnippet No. 553,543

In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens provides readers with an idealised portrait of a boy so inherently and unrealistically good that his values are never subverted by either brutal orphanages or coerced involvement in a gang of young pickpockets.

FactSnippet No. 553,544

Charles Dickens's fiction, reflecting what he believed to be true of his own life, makes frequent use of coincidence, either for comic effect or to emphasise the idea of providence.

FactSnippet No. 553,545

Charles Dickens was the most popular novelist of his time, and remains one of the best-known and most-read of English authors.

FactSnippet No. 553,546

Charles Dickens's works have never gone out of print, and have been adapted continually for the screen since the invention of cinema, with at least 200 motion pictures and TV adaptations based on Dickens's works documented.

FactSnippet No. 553,547

Charles Dickens created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest British novelist of the Victorian era.

FactSnippet No. 553,548

Virginia Woolf had a love-hate relationship with Charles Dickens, finding his novels "mesmerizing" while reproving him for his sentimentalism and a commonplace style.

FactSnippet No. 553,549

Charles Dickens was a favourite author of Roald Dahl; the best-selling children's author would include three of Charles Dickens's novels among those read by the title character in his 1988 novel Matilda.

FactSnippet No. 553,550

In 1960 a bas-relief sculpture of Charles Dickens, notably featuring characters from his books, was commissioned from sculptor Estcourt J Clack to adorn the office building built on the site of his former home at 1 Devonshire Terrace, London.

FactSnippet No. 553,551

Charles Dickens catalysed the emerging Christmas as a family-centred festival of generosity, in contrast to the dwindling community-based and church-centred observations, as new middle-class expectations arose.

FactSnippet No. 553,552

Charles Dickens was commemorated on the Series E £10 note issued by the Bank of England that circulated between 1992 and 2003.

FactSnippet No. 553,553

Charles Dickens's portrait appeared on the reverse of the note accompanied by a scene from The Pickwick Papers.

FactSnippet No. 553,554

The Charles Dickens School is a high school in Broadstairs, Kent.

FactSnippet No. 553,555

In 2002, Charles Dickens was number 41 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

FactSnippet No. 553,556

The Charles Dickens Museum is reported to have paid £180, 000 for the portrait.

FactSnippet No. 553,557

Charles Dickens published well over a dozen major novels and novellas, a large number of short stories, including a number of Christmas-themed stories, a handful of plays, and several non-fiction books.

FactSnippet No. 553,558

Charles Dickens's novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines, then reprinted in standard book formats.

FactSnippet No. 553,559