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17 Facts About Charles Dickens

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It was the most effective of occasions, it was the worst of occasions, and Charles Dickens wrote all of it down—the ugly truths about Victorian England and the perils of Britain’s social class system. His unprecedented movie star made him the most well-liked novelist of his century, and since then his books have by no means been out of print. However the writer of Great Expectations, Bleak House, and dozens of different works was greater than only a author. Listed here are 17 information about Dickens.

1. HE WAS FORCED TO WORK AT A YOUNG AGE.

The eldest son of Elizabeth and John Dickens was born in February 1812 on Portsea Island within the British metropolis of Portsmouth, and moved round along with his household in his youthful years to Yorkshire after which London. He was, admittedly, a “very small and never over-particularly-taken-care-of boy.”

When his father was referred to as to London once more to be a clerk within the Naval Pay Office, the elder Dickens amassed a lot debt that the complete household—apart from Charles and his older sister Fanny—had been sent to Marshalsea debtors’ jail (later the setting of Dickens’s novel Little Dorrit).

Left to fend for himself at solely 12 years outdated, Dickens needed to drop out of personal faculty and work at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse alongside the River Thames, incomes six shillings every week pasting labels onto blacking pots used for shoe polish.

2. ANOTHER JOB TAUGHT HIM HOW TO WRITE.

In 1827 and 1828, the 15-year-old Dickens discovered work as a junior clerk on the legislation workplace of Ellis and Blackmore—however as a substitute of brushing up on authorized work to ultimately turn into a lawyer, he voraciously studied the shorthand technique of writing developed by Thomas Gurney. The talent allowed him to start working as a reporter within the 1830s overlaying Parliament and British elections for retailers just like the Morning Chronicle.

3. HE PUBLISHED WORKS UNDER A PSEUDONYM.

Dickens’s first printed works appeared in 1833 and 1834 with out his writer’s byline. In August 1834, his quick story “The Boarding-Home,” printed within the Month-to-month Journal, featured his chosen pseudonym, “Boz.”

The only-syllable title got here from a childhood rendering of the character Moses from Irish author Oliver Goldsmith’s 1766 novel The Vicar of Wakefield, later mentioned in Dickens’s personal A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens referred to as his brother Augustus “Moses,” however later explained it was “facetiously pronounced by way of the nostril, [and] turned Boses, and being shortened, turned Boz. Boz was a really acquainted family phrase to me, lengthy earlier than I used to be an writer, and so I got here to undertake it.”

The nom de plume turned so standard that he printed a compilation of his essays and quick fiction referred to as Sketches by Boz in 1839.

4. HIS FAME KEPT A CERTAIN IDIOM ALIVE.

The phrase “what the dickens,” first talked about in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, was a euphemism for conjuring the satan. In his guide Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit, writer John Bowen explained the title “was an alternative choice to ‘the satan,’ or the deuce (a card or a cube with two spots), the doubling of the satan briefly.”

Dickens allegedly used the pseudonym Boz to deflect any unseemly comparisons to Devil, however as soon as his actual title was revealed and the general public turned conversant in his work, Dickens ended up protecting the then-200-year-old phrase en vogue.

5. HE MIGHT HAVE HAD EPILEPSY.

Although any indication he might need suffered from epilepsy isn’t corroborated by up to date medical data, he did return to the neurological dysfunction sufficient occasions in his work that some speculate that he might need drawn from his personal experiences with seizures.

Characters akin to Guster from Bleak Home, Monks from Oliver Twist, and Bradley Gravestone from Our Mutual Friend all suffered from epilepsy.

6. AMERICA WAS NOT HIS FAVORITE PLACE.

By the point he first journeyed to America in 1842 on a lecture tour—later chronicled in his travelogue American Notes for General Circulation—Dickens was a global movie star due to his writing, and he was acquired as such when he toured east coast cities like Boston and New York.

“I can do nothing that I need to do, go nowhere the place I need to go, and see nothing that I need to see,” he complained in a letter about his U.S. travels. “If I flip into the road, I’m adopted by a large number.”

Although he cherished the fast-growing cities and was awed by a visit west to the American prairie, Dickens didn’t essentially have the most effective time on the entire. Particularly within the nation’s capital: “As Washington could also be referred to as the headquarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva,” he wrote, “the time is come after I should confess, with none disguise, that the prevalence of these two odious practices of chewing and expectorating started about this time to be something however agreeable, and shortly turned most offensive and sickening.”

7. HE HELPED THE SEARCH FOR THE LOST FRANKLIN EXPEDITION.

The writer used his affect to assist Girl Jane Franklin seek for her husband, Sir John Franklin, who disappeared within the Arctic together with 128 crew on the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror whereas trying to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. He wrote a two-part evaluation of the ill-fated voyage referred to as “The Lost Arctic Voyagers,” and even lectured throughout Britain hoping to lift cash for a rescue mission.

In the long run the lacking vessels weren’t discovered till 2014 and 2016, respectively, and varied explanations for the crew’s destiny have been suggested. However on the time, Dickens gave in to racist sentiment and blamed the Inuit, writing, “No man can, with any present of cause, undertake to affirm that this unhappy remnant of Franklin’s gallant band weren’t set upon and slain by the Esquimaux themselves … We imagine each savage to be in his coronary heart covetous, treacherous, and merciless.” Inuit oral histories and different proof present that Franklin’s males truly died from hunger, illness, or publicity.

8. HE PERFECTED THE CLIFFHANGER ENDING.

Most of Dickens’s novels—together with classics like David Copperfield and Oliver Twist—had been initially written in month-to-month, weekly, or rare installments on a subscription foundation or in magazines, solely to be republished in full guide type later. In doing so, Dickens employed cliffhangers from chapter to chapter to get keen readers to purchase subsequent episodes.

In a single 1841 incident, American readers had been so anxious to know what occurred in Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop that they flocked to docks in New York harbor, hoping to ask passengers arriving from Europe whether or not they’d learn the ending of the story and if the character of Nell had died. (Spoiler alert: She did.)

9. HE HAD PET RAVENS AND KEPT THEM AROUND EVEN AFTER THEY DIED.

Dickens owned a beloved raven he named Grip, and it even seems as a personality in his novel Barnaby Rudge. In an 1841 letter to a good friend named George Cattermole, Dickens stated he wished the titular character of the guide “all the time in firm with a pet raven, who’s immeasurably extra understanding than himself. To this finish I’ve been finding out my hen, and suppose I might make a really queer character of him.”

Following the hen’s dying from consuming lead paint chips later that 12 months, Dickens changed it with one other raven, additionally referred to as Grip, which was allegedly the inspiration behind Edgar Allan Poe’s poem ”The Raven.” When the second Grip met his demise, Dickens had a taxidermist stuff and mount the hen in an elaborate wood and glass case, which is now within the Free Library of Philadelphia’s assortment.

10. HE ALSO KEPT HIS PET CAT AROUND FOR A WHILE.

To not be outdone by birds, companions of the feline selection additionally accompanied Dickens all through his life, with the writer as soon as declaring, “What higher present than the love of a cat?”

When his cat Bob died in 1862, he had its paw stuffed and mounted to an ivory letter opener and engraved with “C.D., In reminiscence of Bob, 1862.” The letter opener is now on display on the Berg Assortment of English and American Literature on the New York Public Library.

11. HE REVEALED THAT HIS EARLIEST INSPIRATION WAS LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD.

In 1850, Dickens started enhancing a weekly journal, Family Phrases, to which he additionally contributed quick fiction and serialized novels. In one in every of his first tales for the journal, “A Christmas Tree,” Dickens described his earliest muse as the principle character within the fairytale Little Pink Using Hood—maybe as a method of coping with his personal childhood innocence devoured by sudden evils. “She was my past love,” he wrote. “I felt that if I might have married Little Pink Using-Hood, I ought to have recognized good bliss. However, it was to not be.”

12. HE WASN’T AFRAID TO SPEAK HIS MIND.

In an 1860 letter written to Florence Marryat, the daughter of his good friend Captain Frederick Marryat, Dickens berated her after she requested him for writing recommendation and submitted a brief story for a literary journal he was enhancing referred to as All of the Yr Spherical.

“To learn professed contributions truthfully, and talk a wonderfully unprejudiced determination respecting each one in every of them to its writer or authoress, is a process, of the magnitude of which you evidently haven’t any conception,” Dickens informed her. “I can’t […] alter what appears to me to be the actual fact relating to this story (as an example), any greater than I can alter my eyesight or my listening to. I don’t deem it appropriate for my Journal,” and later telling her plainly, “I don’t suppose it’s a good story.”

13. HE WAS A PRODIGIOUS WORDSMITH.

To not be outdone by the likes of William Shakespeare, Dickens was the opposite British author recognized to create words and phrases of his own. Thank Dickens for phrases and phrases like butter-fingers, flummox, the creeps, dustbin, ugsome, slangular, and extra.

14. HE STARTED A HOME FOR “FALLEN WOMEN.”

With assist from millionaire banking heiress Angela Coutts, Dickens arrange and successfully managed Urania Cottage, a rehabilitation house for homeless ladies, ex-prisoners, and prostitutes so they might (hopefully) to migrate to Britain’s colonies and reintegrate into Victorian society.

In response to The Guardian, Dickens would “go to the home in Shepherd’s Bush, usually a number of occasions every week, to oversee it, choose inmates, seek the advice of with jail governors, rent and fireplace matrons, take care of the drains and the gardener, report back to Coutts intimately a number of occasions every week on no matter was occurring there, deal with the cash, preserve cautious written accounts of the backgrounds of the women, and prepare their emigration to Australia, South Africa, or Canada.”

15. HE WAS A VICTORIAN GHOSTBUSTER.

In an period of séances and mediums, when many Victorians believed in each spiritualism and science, Dickens didn’t discriminate. In reality, together with different authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and William Butler Yeats, he was a member of the Ghost Club, a sort of members-only group that tried to research supposed supernatural encounters and hauntings, usually exposing frauds within the course of.

It is smart, contemplating that a few of Dickens’s best-known work, like A Christmas Carol, hinges on the supernatural. However not like Conan Doyle, he remained a skeptic.

“My very own thoughts is completely unprejudiced and impressible on the topic. I don’t within the least faux that such issues are usually not,” Dickens stated in a September 1859 letter to author William Howitt. “However … I’ve not but met with any Ghost Story that was proved to me, or that had not the noticeable peculiarity in it—that the alteration of some slight circumstance would carry it throughout the vary of widespread pure possibilities.”

16. A TRAIN CRASH NEARLY DERAILED OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

On June 10, 1865, Dickens was touring house from France when his train derailed whereas crossing a bridge, and his automotive was left dangling from the tracks. After discovering a conductor to provide him keys to the seven first-class prepare vehicles that had tumbled into the river under, the then 53-year-old author helped save stranded passengers.

When all was stated and performed, he was compelled to climb again into the dangling automotive to retrieve a just-completed lacking installment of Our Mutual Good friend that he was alleged to ship to his publishers.

17. HE WAS BURIED IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY AGAINST HIS WISHES.

The writer had particular plans for the way he wished to spend eternity. He initially wished to be buried subsequent to his spouse Catherine’s sister, his muse Mary Hogarth (who had died in 1837 and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London). He then requested to be buried in a easy grave within the cemetery of Rochester Cathedral in Kent.

Dickens collapsed from a stroke whereas eating along with his spouse’s different sister, Georgina Hogarth, at his house; he died on June 9, 1870. However he did not find yourself in both of his chosen spots. As an alternative, he was whisked away to the Poets’ Nook of Westminster Abbey as a result of the Dean of Westminster, Arthur Stanley, wished a well-known author to provide some cultural significance to the Abbey on the time.

Regardless of stipulating in his will that “no public announcement be made from the time or place of my burial,” a whole bunch of hundreds of individuals lined as much as stroll previous his physique in Westminster Abbey.

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