Charles Dickens’ Birthday
Happy birthday, Charles John Huffam Dickens – born this day 211 years ago and still going strong!
Not many authors get their names turned into adjectives, but our Charles did. If I were to describe circumstances as “Dickensian”, you’d know exactly what I mean. It’s thanks to this forensic analysis of the seedier aspects of London life that he’s generally considered to be the greatest Victorian novelist.
He didn’t have the best start in life, young Charles. His father had a decent job but was so financially reckless that he ended up in debtors’ prison, and his 12-year-old son was withdrawn from school and sent to work in a factory. It was all grist to the mill, though, for Dickens. This harsh start provided a rich source of material for him to draw on when he wrote his sprawling, serialized novels and created his many memorable characters – so much larger than life that they live on in our cultural imaginations more than two centuries on.
Who has not known an Ebenezer Scrooge? (I’ve known a few). How many of us have skelped an artful dodger around the lugs? (I’m not admitting to that one.) Who has not cheered on Philip (Pip) Pirrip as he rises up to become a gentleman and then remonstrated with him when he treats brother-in-law Joe so abominably? Who has not cried with Bob Cratchit as he strives to keep his young son alive?
You’ll have your favourite characters. Some are sweet and innocent, some are cruel and heartless; still, others are preposterous buffoons. My favourite is Betsey Trotwood, David Copperfield’s eccentric aunt. She’s stern and stubborn, to begin with but comes good in the end. If you’re looking for character transformation, look no further than BT.
Charles Dickens on LibrarySearch
We’ve got all Dickens’ books. If you haven’t read any, why not start today. Log into the library catalogue LibrarySearch to see which are available:
In order of publication:
Pickwick Papers (1836-37)
A Christmas Carol (1843)
Oliver Twist (1837-9)
Nicholas Nickelby (1838-9)
The Old Curiosity Shop (1940-1)
Barnaby Rudge (1841)
Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4)
Dombey and Son (1846-8)
David Copperfield (1849-50)
Bleak House (1852-3)
Hard Times (1854)
Little Dorritt (1855-7)
A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
Great Expectations (1860-1)
Our Mutual Friend (1864-5)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (incomplete when Dickens died in 1870)
By Lesley McRobb
Read more on another Literary Master, Jane Austin in our post on her here.
photo by Taha (Unsplash)