The world-renowned British writer and social critic is famous for a lot of reasons, especially his books. He is credited with the title of one of the greatest novelists of not only the Victorian Era, but of all time. And rightly so. He came up with some of the best-known fictional characters in literature. The man is a legend. But his rise to fame wasn’t any easy road. Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on the 7th of February in 1812. Born and brought up in Portsmouth, on 1 Mile End Terrace on the southern coast of England, he was the second child of a total of eight siblings. He suffered a very rocky childhood, with his family facing myriads of financial problems, chiefly due to his father- John Dickens- unhealthy habit of living beyond his means. John Dickens was a naval clerk with large aspirations. Dreaming of going from rags to riches was a feat he never managed to accomplish in his lifetime. But his son did.
While John Dickens remained a naval clerk, Charles’ novels and short stories enjoy an immortality when it comes to success, being read and spoken about even today! In 1824, his father was then taken away to prison for accumulating a debt he couldn’t pay. Dickens, a mere 11-year-old boy at the time, watched on helplessly. This was after, a school that his mother Elizabeth Dickens had set up as one last attempt at availing them from their poverty and relieving them from their economic crisis, failed. This also meant that the only breadwinner of the family was also gone, and hence Dickens had to drop out of school and work in a factory. This led to him harbouring feelings of being disappointed by the people who were meant to be responsible for him also later manifested into a recurring underlying theme for his literature. In his first novel, he talks about an orphan living on the streets, and hence had to rely only on his wits to survive in the cold harsh world.
The novel? Oliver Twist. This book has since gone on to be a mega success, selling millions of copies over the years. His other works which are upheld in the annals of literature and history as classics include David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol and
. These have defined prose since their conception in the 1800s, forming the inspiration for innumerable writers over the ages. This makes Dickens’ literary genius all the more awe-inspiring! That is because despite him lacking any ounce of formal education, he managed to maintain weekly journal for over 20 years, wrote five small novellas, and penned fifteen entire novels, and over a hundred articles as well as short stories. All this coming from a man that didn’t go past the 5th grade in school! But that’s not it.
Charles Dickens even lectured and addressed audiences of all ages extensively with his wife Catherine “Kate” Dickens, and was also an avid and unrelenting letter writer. And just when you think you had understood the magnitude of the man’s intelligence, you get to know that he was also a vigorous campaigner for social reforms. He vocally supported children's rights, education, campaigned against slavery, and many other things, some of which we very recently implemented. Unfortunately though, in 1865 Dickens suffered an accident from which he never fully recovered. The train he was in was involved in an accident, whose aftereffects plagued him till the age of 58, when he finally suffered a fatal stroke and breathed his last. Dickens’ final resting place was chosen as “Poet’s Corner” at London’s Westminster Abbey, with a legion of thousands collecting at his grave. A man always ahead of his time, the name Charles Dickens is forever writ in history, never to be besmirched.