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“I am born.”
Born in 1812 to middle-class parents in the English city of Portsmouth, Charles Dickens—like several of his protagonists—entered the workforce at a young age. When his father was sent to debtors’ prison, 12-year-old Boz (Charles’ childhood nickname) helped support his family by pasting labels on shoe polish bottles in a factory. He later landed a job at a legal firm before covering the House of Commons as a reporter.
“It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations.”
Dickens and his wife Catherine, the daughter of his onetime coworker at the Morning Chronicle newspaper, had 10 children together, one of whom died in infancy. He named some of his brood, including Alfred D’Orsay Tennyson Dickens and Henry Fielding Dickens, after his favorite writers. A great inventor of zany pet monikers, Dickens dubbed Kate “Lucifer Box” because of her stormy temper, called Francis “Chickenstalker” in honor of a character from one of his books and gave Edward the lifelong epithet “Plorn.”
“The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like.”
Fascinated by all things paranormal, Dickens allegedly belonged to London’s famous Ghost Club, an organization that investigates “ghosts and hauntings” to this day. His passion for the uncanny began in his teens, when he pored over tales of phantoms, murder and cannibalism. Dickens also extolled the benefits of mesmerism (hypnosis), which he used to treat his wife’s headaches and regularly practiced in public. (He himself refused to be put into a trance.)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
In 1847 Danish author Hans Christian Andersen finagled an introduction to his literary idol, Charles Dickens, while visiting England for the fist time. The two men grew friendly and began corresponding. A decade later Andersen arrived at Dickens’ country home, Gads Hill Place, for a fortnight-long visit. The fairytale writer stuck around for more than a month, outstaying his welcome and reportedly boring the Dickens gang to tears. When he finally moved on, Dickens wrote a note on the guestroom mirror: “Hans Anderson slept in this room for five weeks—which seemed to the family AGES!” Anderson, meanwhile, thoroughly enjoyed his time in Kent and apparently never noticed his hosts’ exasperation.
“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”
Dickens is thought to have suffered from epilepsy as a child and possibly throughout his life. Several of his characters—including Monks in “Oliver Twist,” Guster in “Bleak House” and Bradley Headstone in “Our Mutual Friend—experience “fits” resembling epileptic seizures. Modern doctors have observed that Dickens described “the falling sickness,” as it was then known, with incredible medical accuracy.
“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well.”
On June 9, 1865, Dickens and his mistress, actress Ellen Ternan, were returning home from France when their train hit a broken line and derailed, leaving their car hanging off a bridge. The accident killed 10 people and wounded dozens more. Unharmed, Dickens sprang into action, ministering to injured and dying passengers with brandy and water. He then clambered back into the train and risked his life to retrieve the manuscript of his novel “Our Mutual Friend.” Four days later, Dickens recounted the ordeal to an old school friend, writing, “I am a little shaken, not by the beating and dragging of the carriage in which I was, but by the hard work afterwards in getting out the dying and dead, which was most horrible.”
“It is a hopeless endeavor to attract people to a theater unless they can be first brought to believe that they will never get in.”
Before becoming the most famous English novelist of his time, Dickens considered a stage career. A natural performer, he would impersonate his characters in front of a mirror before capturing them with his pen. He also occasionally accepted roles in amateur productions and penned a handful of plays. Later in life, Dickens embarked on a public reading circuit, acting out popular passages from his books in packed theaters on both sides of the Atlantic. He kept up a grueling tour schedule until a year before his death on June 9, 1870.
Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)
Illustration of Charles Dickens © Charles Dickens is much loved for his great contribution to classic English literature. He was the quintessential Victorian author. His epic stories, vivid characters and exhaustive depiction of contemporary life are unforgettable.
His own story is one of rags to riches. He was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens. The good fortune of being sent to school at the age of nine was short-lived because his father, inspiration for the character of Mr Micawber in 'David Copperfield', was imprisoned for bad debt. The entire family, apart from Charles, were sent to Marshalsea along with their patriarch. Charles was sent to work in Warren's blacking factory and endured appalling conditions as well as loneliness and despair. After three years he was returned to school, but the experience was never forgotten and became fictionalised in two of his better-known novels 'David Copperfield' and 'Great Expectations'.
Like many others, he began his literary career as a journalist. His own father became a reporter and Charles began with the journals 'The Mirror of Parliament' and 'The True Sun'. Then in 1833 he became parliamentary journalist for The Morning Chronicle. With new contacts in the press he was able to publish a series of sketches under the pseudonym 'Boz'. In April 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth who edited 'Sketches by Boz'. Within the same month came the publication of the highly successful 'Pickwick Papers', and from that point on there was no looking back for Dickens.
As well as a huge list of novels he published autobiography, edited weekly periodicals including 'Household Words' and 'All Year Round', wrote travel books and administered charitable organisations. He was also a theatre enthusiast, wrote plays and performed before Queen Victoria in 1851. His energy was inexhaustible and he spent much time abroad - for example lecturing against slavery in the United States and touring Italy with companions Augustus Egg and Wilkie Collins, a contemporary writer who inspired Dickens' final unfinished novel 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'.
He was estranged from his wife in 1858 after the birth of their ten children, but maintained relations with his mistress, the actress Ellen Ternan. He died of a stroke in 1870. He is buried at Westminster Abbey.
7 Things You Didn’t Know About Charles Dickens - HISTORY
Posted by Archi Sarkar, Google Books Associate
More than a century after his death in 1870, Victorian novelist Charles John Huffam Dickens, author of The Old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, is one of the mostly avidly read authors today. Here's wishing a "Happy Birthday" to a literary stalwart who has captivated us with marvelously crafted stories and their intricately fascinating characters like Little Nell and Pip.
Aside from his work, however, there was much to the man himself. From being an fervent supporter for the abolition of slavery in America, to being a philanthropist and setting up Urania Cottage&mdasha home for destitute women in England&mdashCharles Dickens did it all.
Dickens's first story was "A Dinner at Poplar Walk," published in the London periodical Monthly Magazine in 1833. He was only 21.
Prior to becoming a famous novelist, Dickens was a political journalist for The Morning Chronicle in Britain, where he published a collection of his work in Sketches by Boz. He later moved on to become the editor of Bentley's Miscellany at the age of 24.
Dickens had a pet raven named Grip, whom he loved so dearly that when it died, he had the bird stuffed and mounted in his study. It is also said that the bird not only inspired Dickens's talking raven in Barnaby Rudge, but also Edgar Alan Poe's memorable poem "The Raven."
While renting hotel suites during his travels to the U.S. and other places, Dickens almost always rearranged all the furniture in the room until he was completely satisfied with the decor. He also insisted on his children keeping their nurseries extremely organized and rebuked them rather severely for untidiness. Literary and psychological experts have often conjectured that this behavior resulted from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Dickens's ten-year friendship with the fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen abruptly ended when he stuck a note in his guest bedroom, only days after the author of "The Ugly Duckling" had departed, that read: "Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks&mdashwhich seemed to the family ages!"
Dickens published Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby in periodical installments, often sensationalizing and altering the plot after taking into account the public reception for each of the published episodes.
At his country home in Gad's Hill Place, Dickens had a faux bookcase in his study that concealed a secret door and was filled with bogus yet amusing titles like Hansard's Guide to Refreshing Sleep, Was Shakespeare's Mother Fat? and The Quarrelly Review.
Things you may not know about Charles Dickens
I’ve updated an older post in honor of Dickens’ Birthday.
Charles Dickens was born on this day in 1812. Though his work is still highly praised, his personal life is ignored. While we shouldn’t judge a man’s work by his personal life, we must admit biography does sometimes bleed into writing. Let’s look at the complex man who shaped our modern view of Victorian England.
As with many beloved men in history, Dickens had a dark side. He was a very strict father, and left his wife because she had lost all “warmth and tenderness”. Yeah, Chuck, you try being witty and sexy after having 10 children and being left home with them. Dickens left his wife for a young actress who in turn left him when he was too old to be much fun. Karma baby!
“Things may not know about Charles Dickens”
The name “Dickens” was a curse, possibly invented by Shakespeare.
Instead of saying, “What the devil?” as a profanity, people exclaimed, “What the dickens?” The first usage of that word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
He had first had experience with debtor prisons.
His father was imprisoned for debt and 12-year-old Dickens was sent to work in a boot factory to help support the family. This episode may have formed his worldview and colored everything he accomplished, though he never told the story except obliquely through his fiction. His book Hard Times was thought to be a hardline critique of Victorian society’s view of education and poverty.
He started writing at a young age.
Dickens first published fiction was A Dinner at Poplar Walk, published in Monthly Magazine. He wrote it at the age of 21 while working as a reporter at The Morning Chronicle.
He thought highly of himself but his children? Not so much.
Dickens gave himself a number of different nicknames, including “The Sparkler of Albion”, “Revolver” and “The Inimitable.” He also gave his children nicknames including “Chickenstalker” and “Plorn.”
Dickens kept a pet raven named Grip, which he had stuffed when it died in 1841.
He may have saved multiple lives of friends and strangers after a train crash.
According to the New York Times, Dickens was on a train that derailed over a bridge, in the only first-class carriage that didn’t plummet into a river. He not only found the key that freed his friends, he went to the carriages below and gave water and brandy to those who needed it. Then, the ailing 53-year-old “climbed back into the dangling carriage and retrieved from the pocket of his coat the installment of Our Mutual Friend that he had just completed and was taking to his publishers. The rescue of his fellow passengers and manuscript was kept quiet for many years. Why? Because he was traveling with his mistress the actress Ellen Ternan.
He helped create a home for “fallen women.”
In an era in which women had few options to support themselves and their families, prostitution was a common crime, but one that was severely punished. After an appeal from heiress Angela Coutts, he helped create “Urania House” where former prostitutes could learn to read and write, as well keep house.
Dickens interviewed potential candidates personally after looking in prisons and workhouses for them. He even established the house rules. Approximately 100 women “graduated” from Urania House.
But what was he really hiding?
Dickens had a secret door built in his study which was designed like a bookcase filled with fake books rumored to include titles like Noah’s Arkitecture and a nine-volume set titled Cat’s Lives.
Dickens would have loved Stephen King.
Fascinated by all things paranormal, Dickens belonged to London’s famous Ghost Club, an organization that investigates “ghosts and “hauntings” . His passion for the uncanny began in his teens, when he pored over tales of phantoms, murder and cannibalism.
His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, remains a mystery.
Dickens had written half of a novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, before he died of a stroke in 1870. Edwin Drood was a young man engaged to Rosa Bud, who is also the object of his uncle John Jasper’s affections, as well as Neville Landless, a young man from Ceylon. After he and Rosa break their engagement, Drood disappears.
Dickens left no clues behind as to who killed his protagonist, although many suspect his jealous uncle. There have been multiple radio, television, and theater reworkings of the story, each with different endings.
In 1873, a young Vermont printer, Thomas James, published a version that he claimed had been literally ‘ghost-written’ by him channeling Dickens’ spirit. A sensation was created, with several critics, including Arthur Conan Doyle, a spiritualist himself, praising this version, calling it similar in style to Dickens’ work and for several decades the ‘James version’ of Edwin Drood was common in America.
4. Charles Dickens's fame kept a certain idiom alive.
The phrase “what the dickens,” first mentioned in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, was a euphemism for conjuring the devil. In his book Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit, author John Bowen explained the name “was a substitute for ‘the devil,’ or the deuce (a card or a dice with two spots), the doubling of the devil in short.”
Dickens allegedly used the pseudonym Boz to deflect any unseemly comparisons to Satan, but once his real name was revealed and the public became familiar with his work, Dickens ended up keeping the then-200-year-old phrase en vogue.
32 Things You Might Not Know About Charles Spurgeon
1. One woman was converted through reading a single page of one of Spurgeon&rsquos sermons wrapped around some butter she had bought.
2. Spurgeon read The Pilgrim&rsquos Progress at age 6 and went on to read it over 100 times.
3. The New Park Street Pulpit and The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit&mdashthe collected sermons of Spurgeon during his ministry with that congregation&mdashfill 63 volumes. The sermons&rsquo 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.
4. Spurgeon&rsquos mother had 17 children, nine of whom died in infancy.
5. When Charles Spurgeon was only 10 years old, a visiting missionary, Richard Knill, said that the young Spurgeon would one day preach the gospel to thousands and would preach in Rowland Hill&rsquos chapel, the largest Dissenting church in London. His words were fulfilled.
6. Spurgeon missed being admitted to college because a servant girl inadvertently showed him into a different room than that of the principal who was waiting to interview him. (Later, he determined not to reapply for admission when he believed God spoke to him, &ldquoSeekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!&rdquo)
7. Spurgeon&rsquos personal library contained 12,000 volumes&mdash1,000 printed before 1700. (The library, 5,103 volumes at the time of its auction, is now housed at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
8. Before he was 20, Spurgeon had preached over 600 times.
9. Spurgeon drew to his services Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone, members of the royal family, Members of Parliament, as well as author John Ruskin, Florence Nightingale, and General James Garfield, later president of the United States.
10. The New Park Street Church invited Spurgeon to come for a 6-month trial period, but Spurgeon asked to come for only 3 months because &ldquothe congregation might not want me, and I do not wish to be a hindrance.&rdquo
11. When Spurgeon arrived at The New Park Street Church, in 1854, the congregation had 232 members. By the end of his pastorate, 38 years later, that number had increased to 5,311. (Altogether, 14,460 people were added to the church during Spurgeon&rsquos tenure.) The church was the largest independent congregation in the world.
12. Spurgeon typically read 6 books per week and could remember what he had read&mdashand where&mdasheven years later.
13. Spurgeon once addressed an audience of 23,654&mdashwithout a microphone or any mechanical amplification.
14. Spurgeon began a pastors&rsquo college that trained nearly 900 students during his lifetime&mdashand it continues today.
15. In 1865, Spurgeon&rsquos sermons sold 25,000 copies every week. They were translated into more than 20 languages.
16. At least 3 of Spurgeon&rsquos works (including the multi-volume Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series) have sold more than 1,000,000 copies. One of these, All of Grace, was the first book ever published by Moody Press (formerly the Bible Institute Colportage Association) and is still its all-time bestseller.
17. During his lifetime, Spurgeon is estimated to have preached to 10,000,000 people.
18. Spurgeon once said he counted 8 sets of thoughts that passed through his mind at the same time while he was preaching.
19. Testing the acoustics in the vast Agricultural Hall, Spurgeon shouted, &ldquoBehold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.&rdquo A worker high in the rafters of the building heard this and became converted to Christ as a result.
20. Susannah Thompson, Spurgeon&rsquos wife, became an invalid at age 33 and could seldom attend her husband&rsquos services after that.
21. Spurgeon spent 20 years studying the Book of Psalms and writing his commentary on them, The Treasury of David.
22. Spurgeon insisted that his congregation&rsquos new building, The Metropolitan Tabernacle, employ Greek architecture because the New Testament was written in Greek. This one decision has greatly influenced subsequent church architecture throughout the world.
23. The theme for Spurgeon&rsquos Sunday morning sermon was usually not chosen until Saturday night.
24. For an average sermon, Spurgeon took no more than one page of notes into the pulpit, yet he spoke at a rate of 140 words per minute for 40 minutes.
25. The only time that Spurgeon wore clerical garb was when he visited Geneva and preached in Calvin&rsquos pulpit.
26. By accepting some of his many invitations to speak, Spurgeon often preached 10 times in a week.
27. Spurgeon met often with Hudson Taylor, the well-known missionary to China, and with George Muller, the orphanage founder.
28. Spurgeon had two children&mdashtwin sons&mdashand both became preachers. Thomas succeeded his father as pastor of the Tabernacle, and Charles, Jr., took charge of the orphanage his father had founded.
29. Spurgeon&rsquos wife, Susannah, called him Tirshatha (a title used of the Judean governor under the Persian empire), meaning &ldquoYour Excellency.&rdquo
30. Spurgeon often worked 18 hours a day. Famous explorer and missionary David Livingstone once asked him, &ldquoHow do you manage to do two men&rsquos work in a single day?&rdquo Spurgeon replied, &ldquoYou have forgotten that there are two of us.&rdquo
31. Spurgeon spoke out so strongly against slavery that American publishers of his sermons began deleting his remarks on the subject.
32. Occasionally Spurgeon asked members of his congregation not to attend the next Sunday&rsquos service, so that newcomers might find a seat. During one 1879 service, the regular congregation left so that newcomers waiting outside might get in the building immediately filled again.
11 things you should know about Charles Dickens.
Oodles of things have been written about Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and words are never enough. He was a wordsmith alright, something admitted by everyone who has read his masterpieces. When it comes to hardships, calamities and unfairness Dickens is the first one to come to mind. He is the only one whose name has become an actual word-specifically an adjective to describe the hungry, the poor, the filthy, the unappreciated.It is a personal feat and an acknowledgement of his excellent writing skills.
Here are the 11 facts about Dickens :
1) He was sent to work in a factory at the age of 12 since his father was behind bars for debts
2) “The signal Man” is based on a personal experience. Taken from 1865 when there was a trail derailment in Staplehurst. Seven train carriages toppled-off a bridge which was under repair. His car was the first to be spared when the train stopped ultimately. But this scarred him for life.
3) In 1846 Dickens was the co-founder of Urania Cottage,a home for the “fallen women” where they could learn domestic activities and try to readapt to society.
4) Paranormal was his “soft spot” and it is rumoured that he was a member of the Paranormal investigation club “The Ghost Club” in London.
5) He had a pet raven named Grip, which he had given to be stuffed when it died in 1841.
6) He was an obsessive compulsive rumoured to have been re-arranging his furniture every now and again and having his head pointed towards North, while sleeping.
7) He had ten children and gave each one nicknames such as “Skittles” and “Plorn”.
8) He had a great sense of humour, too. In 1857, while Hans Christian Andersen was visiting him and his family and stayed for 5 weeks, the visit ended abruptly because Dickens wrote on the mirror: “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks which seemed to the family AGES!”
9) Boston. Thousands of people gathered to await the ship which carried chapter 71 from his book “The Old Curiosity Shops”. The crowd asked the captain a hint from the book: “Is Nell dead?”
When the captain gave a positive answer everybody gave a loud groan disappointed.
10)He was a keen supporter of hypnotism and used it to cure his wife’s and children’s illnesses.
11)He had a secret door in his study, designed like a bookcase and filled with fake books. It is believed that this is where he kept titles like “Noah’s Architecture” and a nine-volume set titled “Cat’s Lives”.
Ten Things To Know About Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
"Marley was dead, to begin with." With those six words, Charles Dickens invited us into the world of A Christmas Carol, indelibly introducing us to Ebenezer Scrooge, the three ghosts of Christmas, Tiny Tim, and a full cast of memorable characters. Though he spent mere weeks writing it, Dickens' novella about the original Christmas grinch has been a holiday staple for nearly two centuries, giving rise to countless adaptations for stage and screen. It was such an immediate hit, that barely a month after its debut, Dickens was embroiled in a legal fight against a publishing company that had printed pirated copies.
In the spirit of the season, here are 10 things you may not know about the Christmas classic, including its original title, what happened to the original handwritten draft, and a rather famous American author who was not at all a fan.
Did you know… A Christmas Carol was just one of several Christmas-themed stories written by Charles Dickens. The novella’s full title is A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.
Did you know… Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks, under financial pressure. Reportedly Dickens wrote the story while taking hours-long nighttime walks around London.
Did you know… A Christmas Carol was first published on December 19, 1843, with the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve. By 1844, the novella had gone through 13 printings and continues to be a robust seller more than 175 years later.
Did you know… Dickens didn't make very much money from early editions of A Christmas Carol. Though it was a runaway best seller, Dickens was very fastidious about the endpapers and how the book was bound, and the price of materials took a big chunk out of his potential profits.
Did you know… Like many of Dickens’ other works, A Christmas Carol was written as a work of social commentary. Dickens had a lifelong devotion to helping the underserved due to his own family’s experiences with debtors prison, which forced him to drop out of school as a boy and work at a factory. As Dickens’ biographer Michael Slater described, the author thought of A Christmas Carol as a way to, “help open the hearts of the prosperous and powerful towards the poor and powerless…."
Did you know… Upon publishing the first edition of A Christmas Carol, Dickens had his 66-page heavily revised handwritten manuscript bound in crimson leather and decorated in gilt before gifting it to his friend—and creditor—Thomas Mitton, whose name was also inscribed on the cover in gilt. You can see a digital copy of the manuscript on the Morgan Library and Museum website.
Did you know… The Internet Movie Database lists more than 100 versions of A Christmas Carol, including a video game, a 1908 short starring Tom Ricketts (an English actor who also reportedly directed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood), and the 2015 TV-movie A Christmas Carol and Zombies.
Did you know… There are more than 20 TV shows that have used Dickens’ classic as fodder for episodes, including Sanford and Son, The Six Million Dollar Man, Family Ties, Suite Life on Deck, The Jetsons, and Duck Tales.
Did you know… There are two ballet and four opera versions of A Christmas Carol, including The Passion of Scrooge, a chamber opera for one baritone and chamber orchestra. Listen to an excerpt from the chamber opera here.
Top 10 Facts about Charles Dickens
During the Victorian era, there was a progress that saw the birth of the world’s first industrial revolution and the iconic novelist of his century, Charles Dickens.
He is often referred to as the quintessential Victorian author who wrote about the best and worst times of England in the era.
There is a lot to say about Charles Dickens, an author who was not afraid to speak his mind.
Dickens wrote one of the most compelling Christmas stories that are still considered to be a masterpiece.
He did not limit his work to fiction but also wrote about poverty, injustice and crime, all with a twist of humour.
Although Dickens lived in a completely different era, his work has stood the test of time and continue to be studied to date.
There is a lot to learn about Charles Dickens. I have put together the top 10 facts about this great author of A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist.
1. Charles Dickens had a secret door in his house
By Robert William Buss – Wikimedia
There was a secret door in the form of a fake bookcase in his study. These fake books had titles such as The Life of a Cat in 9 volumes.
His home was at Gad’s Hill in Kent. The bookshelf had other fake book titles like 47 volumes of the History of a Short Chancery Suit, Socrates on Wedlock, King Henry the Eighth’s Evidence of Christianity, and the series The Wisdom of Our Ancestors: I Ignorance, II Superstition, III The Block, IV The Stake, V The Rack, VI Dirt, and VII Disease.
The fake door led to a room that is the most preserved in his house, inside the room was a Batman costume from the Victorian era. These book titles were all made up by Dickens himself.
2. His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, remains a mystery
Before his death, Dickens had written half of a novel titled The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
This novel was left unfinished when he died of a stroke in 1870.
The story was about Edwin Drood, a young man engaged to Rosa Bud. Rosa’s uncle, John Jasper, was fond of her and so was Neville from Ceylon.
Unfortunately, Edwin and Rosa broke off their engagement and soon after he disappeared.
The author, Dickens, did not hint on what may have happened to Edwin, was he murdered? If so was it Uncle John who did it?
Several mediums have attempted to rewrite the ending of this love story through radio shows and television films.
3. Dickens’ wife, Catherine, was also a published author
By Daniel Maclise – Wikimedia
The Dickens family was made up of writers. His wife, Catherine, published her book in 1851.
She, just like Dickens, wrote under a pseudonym. She made up a name, Lady Maria Clutterbuck.
Catherine’s book was on cooking recipes which offered menu ideas.
The title of the book was, what shall we have for dinner? This book catered for meals for two people to 18 people.
Unfortunately, Dickens biographer used the book against her stating that the meals she cooked weighed him down.
Modern critics of the book too had somethings to say about it. They found the menu as being too laden.
Meals such as fricassee chicken, fried potatoes, marrow pudding, macaroni and cheese, a lot of bacon, and Italian cream to be too much since people didn’t eat everything at the table.
She has been blamed for Victorian cooking, which has itself been misrepresented.
4. Dickens had a pet raven
Photo by Clark Gu on Unsplash
Dickens owned a raven whom he named Grip. Grip was not only a beloved pet but also featured in one of his novels, Barnaba Rudge.
Dickens had disclosed to his friend, George, that he always wanted to write about a character who had a pet raven. The raven was cleverer than its owner.
Grip died after eating lead paint chips and was soon replaced by another who was also named Grip.
This raven inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write the poem, The Raven.
After his second pet died, Dickens had it stuffed by a taxidermist and placed it in a wooden and glass case. The bird is now in the Free Library of Philadelphia.
5. Charles Dickens resented the large family
Although Dickens seemed to have healed from his break up with his first love, Maria Beadnell.
His marriage to Catherine was not a happy one. He blamed Catherine for not being a good mother and wife.
Dickens was not pleased with the fact that he had so many children to support, they had 10 children. Apparently, according to Dickens, this was Catherine’s fault.
He found Catherine to be dull and boring. At one point, Dickens said that Catherine was not his equal intellectually.
One thing this couple had in common was that they both came from large families. Dickens had 8 siblings while Catherine had 10 siblings.
6. His best-seller was A Tale of Two Cities
You have probably read this book or at the very least have heard the title being used to compare two divergent situations in the same location.
Dickens, being the master of wit, humour, and light-heartedness, used this skill when writing on serious social issues.
This book uses seriousness and grim, to depict the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in Paris.
It tells of the situation in a straightforward fashion that any of Dickens books. This was one of the two historical novels he wrote.
7. His name might have been about the devil
Photo by Alessio Zaccaria on Unsplash
Shakespeare was the first person to ever use the “what the dickens,” in his fiction work, The Merry Wives of Windsor.
This phrase was used as a euphemism for conjuring the devil.
Another author, John Bowen, further explained in his book, Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit, that the name Dickens was used as a substitute for the devil.
It could be for this reason that, in his early writing career, Dickens used Boz as his pen name.
He did not want to be compared to or seen as the devil. After the public became familiar with his writing, he switched to his given name.
8. Charles Dickens always had items and furniture arranged in a particular order
Although it was not proven, many believed that Dickens had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
This was because he would always re-arrange the furniture in any hotel room, he stayed in.
It is also alleged that Dickens would always inspect his children bedrooms and would point out what was untidy and not neat.
Either way, Dickens wanted things to be in order around him.
9. Dickens started working at a very young age
When Charles Dickens turned 12, he left to work in a factory when. This was after his father was sent to prison.
One of his very first jobs was to paste labels on pots of bootblacking in a factory by Charing Cross Station in London.
As you can imagine, the conditions at this factory were not favourable especially for a 12-year-old.
Dickens used to earn 6 shillings a week. He would later paint a picture of his experience through his writing.
10. He did not need a formal education to be the greatest novelist
By George Herbert Watkins – Wikimedia
Charles Dickens did not get a formal education. He had to drop out of school to support his family.
This did not prevent him from becoming the greatest novelist to ever live.
His second job was as a legal clerk, where he mastered the art of writing. All this was self-taught.
In 1863, he published his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, which marked the beginning of his writing career.
He went on to be an international sensation who humorously voiced his opinions about society.
Charles Dickens went on to edit a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories, and non-fiction articles. He became a staunch advocate for children’s rights, education and other social reforms.
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Ten things you never knew about Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol
Find out about Dickens’s boozy breakfasts and the prototype for Scrooge in actor Clive Francis’s story of A Christmas Carol, a seasonal masterpiece.
1 The great historian Thomas Carlyle went straight out and bought himself a turkey after reading Dickens’s tale of the redemption of Scrooge. Novelist William Thackeray, not always an admirer of Dickens, called A Christmas Carol a “national benefit” one American entrepreneur gave his employees an extra day’s holiday. Publication had been a huge success, selling in excess of 6,000 copies. Dickens had began writing his “little Christmas book”, as he called it, in October 1843 and worked on it feverishly for six weeks, finishing it at the end of November, just in time for Christmas.
2 As he wrote, Dickens wept and laughed and wept again and would often take long night walks through London, covering anywhere between 15 or 20 miles “when all sober folks had gone to bed”. When he completed the book, he “broke out”, as he himself described it, “like a madman”.
3 The story is loosely based on Gabriel Grubb, a character in The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton, which appeared in Dickens’ first published novel, The Pickwick Papers. In the story, a gravedigger determined not to make merry at Christmas, is kidnapped by goblins and convinced to change his ways.
4 Two months after the publication of A Christmas Carol, Parley’s Illuminated Library pirated it. Dickens sued and won his case. The pirates, on the other hand, simply declared themselves bankrupt, leaving Dickens to pay £700 in costs, equal to £56,364 today.
5 Within six weeks of its publication, the book hit the London stage in an adaptation by Edward Stirling, which ran for more than 40 nights before transferring to New York’s Park Theatre. Also in the same city, a musical version was staged which was hampered badly on opening night, when brawling broke out, drowning out the bass drum that ushered Marley’s ghost as he rose through a trapdoor.
6 In 1853, 10 years after its publication, Charles Dickens gave the first public performance in Birmingham’s town hall. He performed it in front of a rapturous crowd of 2,000, all working people from the town, and it lasted just under three hours. Before this time, no great author had performed their works in public and for profit, which many thought beneath Dickens’ calling as a writer and a gentleman.
7 On performance days Dickens stuck to a rather bizarre routine. He had two tablespoons of rum flavoured with fresh cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea and, half an hour before the start of his performance, would drink a raw egg beaten into a tumbler of sherry. During the five-minute interval, he invariably consumed a quick cup of beef tea, and always retired to bed with a bowl of soup.
8 He always presented himself to his audience in full evening dress, with a bright buttonhole, a purple waistcoat and a glittering watch-chain. His stage equipment consisted of a reading desk, carpet, gas lights and a pair of large screens behind him to help project his voice forward.
9 Without a single prop or bit of costume, Dickens peopled his stage with a throng of characters, it is said, “like an entire theatre company… under one hat”. The arrival of Scrooge always created a sensation Dickens became an old man with a shrewd, grating voice whose face was drawn into his collar like an ageing turtle. During the Fezziwigs’ party, his fingers would dance along the reading table in a mad array of little hops and pirouettes. It is reported that the audience “fell into a kind of trance, as a universal feeling of joy seemed to invade the whole assembly”.
10 Dickens began with A Christmas Carol, and he ended with it. His last reading of the little book took place in London at St James’s Hall, on March 15, 1870. At the end of the performance, he told his audience: “From these garish lights, I vanish now for evermore, with a heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate farewell.” There was a stunned silence, broken by a tumult of cheering, hat-waving and the stamping of feet. With tears streaming down his face, Dickens raised his hands to his lips in an affectionate kiss and departed from the platform for ever. He died three months later, aged 58.