Biography of Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was one of Britain's most prolific and influential authors.

Born in Portsmouth, England on February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was exposed to literary works in the stories his nursemaid used to tell him. As a young boy, Charles witnessed his father John go to debtor's prison. Charles went to work at a blacking warehouse managed by a relative of his mother when he was twelve. His experiences with hard times and poverty went on to influence the themes of social justice and reform in his novels.

Although he had little formal schooling, Dickens was able to teach himself shorthand and launch a career as a journalist. At the age of sixteen, Dickens got himself a job as a court reporter, and later joined the staff of A Mirror of Parliament, a newspaper that reported on the decisions of Parliament.

Quickly becoming disillusioned with politics, Dickens developed an interest in social reform and began contributing to the True Sun, a radical newspaper. Although his main avenue of work would consist in writing novels, Dickens continued his journalistic work until the end of his life, editing The Daily News, Household Words, and All the Year Round. His connections to various magazines and newspapers as a political journalist gave him the opportunity to begin publishing his own fiction at the beginning of his career. He went on to publish fifteen successful novels, including Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.

Charles Dickens died on June 9, 1870. He is buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.


Study Guides on Works by Charles Dickens

This lesser-known Dickens novel was published under the longer and more formal title of Barnaby Rudge : A Tale of the Riots of Eighty, but over the years, this has been abridged to a less unwieldy Barnaby Rudge. It is an historical novel that is...

Bleak House was begun at Tavistock House, Dickens' London home, in November 1851, continued at Dover, and completed at Boulogne in August 1853. It was originally published in nineteen monthly parts, the last of which was double the size of the...

When Charles Dickens sat down to write what would eventually become the novel David Copperfield, he first intended to write an autobiography, a recollection of his tumultuous, eventful life. Many of his memories, however, were too painful for him...

Dombey and Son was initially published as "Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation." The novel is typically seen as marking a transition in Dickens's career. His seventh novel, it is notable for showing...

Hard Times was originally published in serial form, in a magazine called Household Words beginning on April 1, 1854. The last time that Dickens had published a work in serial form was in 1841 and when publication of Hard Times had begun, Dickens...

Little Dorrit is a novel written by Charles Dickens published between 1855 and 1857. The book was published in serial form and was divided into nineteen parts, each sold separately. Each installment was illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne and had...

Our Mutual Friend is the last novel Charles Dickens completed during his lifetime; The Mystery of Edwin Drood was left incomplete when the author died in 1870. The novel was published in 20 parts spread over 19 months (the final installment was a...