February 7. 2012 is the 200th birthday of one of the English language’s great authors, Charles Dickens. Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens spent some of his early childhood in London. When he was 12, his father was imprisoned for debt and Charles had to go to work in a warehouse. He never forgot either part of his life. He became a court stenographer at age 17 and later became a reporter for the Morning Chronicle. His sketches of London life (signed Boz), began appearing in periodicals in 1833, and the collection Sketches by Boz was published in 1836.
Dickens’ work appeared first in monthly installments and then were made into books. Dickens wrote quickly, often working on more than one novel at a time, and usually finished an installment just when it was due (sound familiar?). However, speed did not keep his intricately plotted books from being the most popular novels of his day.
Dickens wrote more than a dozen major novels, a large number of short stories, several plays, several books of non-fiction, and many essays and articles. He died in 1870 at the age of 58. He’s buried in Westminster Abbey.
Some Dickens links