Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was a nineteenth century English writer who wrote such classics as: A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale Of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and many others. He was born into a middle class family, but when he came home from boarding school at the age of ten he found his family living in poverty. He was unable to return to school in order to help out at home. When he was twelve, his father was sent to prison for his debts. While the rest of the family lived in Marshalsea prison Charles was forced to work long hours in order to support himself.
This left a powerful lifelong wound, social humiliation, and defeat. This was an extremely formative experience in young Charles’s life. Charles’ father, John, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. John Married Elizabeth Barrows in 1809. Elizabeth Barrows’ father Charles Barrows was the chief Conductor in the Navy Pay Office.
Charles Dickens grandfather was also employed by the Navy Pay Office and was accused of embezzling £6,000 and fled England. His father John was the basis for the character Mr. Micawber while his mother Elizabeth was the basis of Mrs. Nickleby. His first novel, the Pickwick Papers, was written as a serial from 1936-1937.
Early in his career he taught people to expect the unexpected for he may have had them laughing in the Pickwick Papers but he soon showed a more serious side in Oliver Twist. He was labeled a social reformer because of the attack the Poor Law received as a result of his novel Oliver Twist. Charles took pride in his role of social reformer. Towards the end, Charles was not a happy man despite his literary success. His marriage had not been a love match, and in the end they lived separate lives.
Restless, he released his non-literary energies in travel – to the US, Switzerland, and Italy. The energy and exuberance of this man was reflected in the extraordinary vividness of his descriptions. Despite his exuberance, there was always an undertone of sadness to Dicken’s life. What distinguishes him from other authors is the way he was able to control the readers emotions; this was the product of his very intense personality. The information for this short biography was gathered from the Encyclopedia Americana – the International Edition, 1998.