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Charles Dickens Bookmark Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

"A boy's story is the best that is ever told."

Charles Dickens was happiest when he was busy. Because his novels were published serially in magazines, he would often start a new project while still in the middle of another. He began Oliver Twist in the middle of The Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby in the middle of Oliver Twist.

In later life, as the most popular novelist of his day, he kept up the madcap pace of work. He wrote fifteen major novels and several books of memoirs and non-fiction, contributed hundreds of essays to magazines, wrote pamphlets, campaigned against social ills, edited several magazines, wrote plays, and organized amateur theatricals. For months at a time, he would take to the road on speaking tours. And still he found time to pursue hobbies and obsessions, including the study of mesmerism; Dickens enjoyed hypnotizing friends and family to help them recover from sickness.

Forced to work in a shoe-polish factory as a boy when his father was sent to debtor's prison, Dickens never forgot the experience. Works like Hard Times and Bleak House, and characters like Scrooge and Oliver Twist, still stand as poignant depictions of life in a newly industrialized society, a society suffering under the burden of its own success. Better than anyone else, Dickens captured the spirit and energy of the people of England, their triumphs and their tragedies in the first half of the Victorian era.
Charles Dickens