“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” quote by one of the most influential author of English Victorian era, English novelist, Charles Dickens, who wrote numerous highly acclaimed novels. Dickens lived a life filled with happiness and sadness and everything in between. He left such amazing work which is the finest part of Victorian Era literature.
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England. His full name was Charles John Huffam Dickens. He was the second child of John and Elizabeth Dickens. As a child he always liked to put on plays in a family kitchen, and singing songs, standing on the table in the local pub. After that, John and Elizabeth moved to London. And the family moves there. John was a congenial man, he got into big debt. Charles Dickens started going to school at the age 9. His father was sent to prison because of bad debt. After that, Charles had to work in Warren’s blacking factory and endured appalling conditions as well as loneliness and despair. This was a factory that handled “blacking,” or shoe polish. The conditions were really bad. Meanwhile, his family was sent to Marshalsea, to live near his father’s prison, and Charles was left alone.
After three years, Dickens was sent back to school but his working experience was never forgotten and that experienced inspired the writing of two well-known novels, “David Copperfield” and “Great Expectations”. His father was able to pay the debt. Things turned around again, Dickens at the age of fifteen had to leave school again because he had to work in an office. In the following year, he became a freelance reporter and stenographer at the law courts of London. By 1832 he was a reported for two magazines. Dickens believed that writings can play a big role in fixing the problems of the world. Dickens became a journalist and began with the journals ‘The Mirror of Parliament’ and ‘The True Sun’. After that, he became a journalist for The Morning Chronicle. He published his first book in 1836, “Sketches by Boz”. In April 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth who edited ‘Sketches by Boz’. In the same month, Dickens published “Pickwick Papers” which was really successful. Catherine and Charles had 10 children. In 1836 Dickens began to publish The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. This method of writing was really popular in the Victorian Era. After this, he began publishing “Oliver Twist”. He was also now editor of Bentley’s Miscellany, a new monthly magazine. He continued publishing his novel in his later magazines, Household Words, and All the Year Round. Olive Twist kind of expressed Dickens life because this book is about a boy, an orphan, in London. Overall Dickens’s career was really successful but not in his first decade when he published work like Nicholas Nickleby (1838–1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840–1841), and Barnaby Rudge (1841).
Dickens was also famous in America. He went on a five-month lecture tour of the United States. He spoke out strongly against slavery and in support of other reforms. When he returned from the United States he wrote the book “American Notes”, a book that criticizes American life as being culturally backward and materialistic. He also wrote another novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, which was about a hero finding that survival on the American frontiers is more difficult than in England. He also wrote, “A Christmas Carol and The Chimes”. Later on, he went abroad to Italy. Italy’s beauty inspired him to write “Pictures from Italy”. He also started to publish installments of “Dombey and Son”. Its full title was “Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son”. This completed the novel and boosted Dickens success. Dickens next novel was “David Copperfield”. This is an autobiographical novel fictionalized elements of Dickens’s childhood, his father was an inspiration for the character of Mr. Micawber, his pursuit of a journalism career and his love life. This was Dickens favorite book. In 1850, he began a new magazine, Household Words. His editorials and articles touched upon English politics, social institutions, and family life.
The 1850s were a gloomy time for Dickens. In 1851, he lost his father and one daughter within 1 week. After e few years, he fell in love with an actress so he separated from his wife. In response to his sadness, Dickens’s next novels were called his “dark” novels. These novels are considered the greatest triumphs of the art of fiction. He wrote the “Bleak House” which is considered to have the most complicated plot of any English novel, the narrative created a relation of all segments of English society. He wrote other novels such as “Hard Times” and “Little Dorrit”. Some consider the “Bleak House” to be the best novel he has written and others consider “Little Dorrit” since it portrays the conditions of England as he saw it and the conflict between the world’s harshness and all of these were expressed in a really impressive artistic form.
In 1859 Dickens published a historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, which was about the French Revolution. Dickens also published seventeen articles which later on appeared as a book entitled “The Uncommercial Traveller”. Next, he wrote “Great Expectations” which is sometimes also considered as his best work. It is a story of a young man’s moral development from childhood to adult life. His last finished work was “Our Mutual Friend” which is about how he viewed London. Before death, Dickens started writing “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, but he never finished it. For several years Dickens was sick. He had a railroad accident in 1865 from which he never recovered entirely. Dickens died of a fatal stroke on June 9, 1870.