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The Life of Charles Dickens



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 in 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 remain with him 

all his life. 3 

Dickens attended school off and on until he was 15, 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. This was 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. And this was the beginning of his career. 6 

Then, at 24, Dickens became famous and was 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 

Then in 1837, Catherine's sister Mary, died. Because of her 

death 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 seperated. 8 


His later years was basically consisting of two main 

additions to his previous activites. 

The first was a series of public readings and lectures which 

he began giving it systematically. And second, he was a 

successive editor. Dickens had been many things in his life; 

he was a reporter , an actor, a conjurer, a poet, a 

lecturer, and a editor and he enjoyed all of those things. 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


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 prove 

to Australia. 11 

Then about 1865 his health started to decline and he died of 

a stroke on June 9, 1870. 12

Dicken's Work 

The Great Expectations 

This story talks about a guy who is in love with a girl. It 

is the theme of a youths 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 



His work of Great Expectation is very related with his 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 longed 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. Perhaps in no 

other large body of fiction does the reader receive so 

strong and agreeable impression of the person behind the



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 



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