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Charles Dickens Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (48)  | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (4)

Born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, UK
Died in Gad's Hill, Rochester, Kent, England, UK  (cerebral hemorrhage)
Birth NameCharles John Huffam Dickens
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Charles Dickens' father was a clerk at the Naval Pay Office, and because of this the family had to move from place to place: Plymouth, London, Chatham. It was a large family and despite hard work, his father couldn't earn enough money. In 1823 he was arrested for debt and Charles had to start working in a factory, labeling bottles for six shillings a week. The economy eventually improved and Charles was able to go back to school. After leaving school, he started to work in a solicitor's office. He learned shorthand and started as a reporter working for the Morning Chronicle in courts of law and the House of Commons. In 1836 his first novel was published, "The Pickwick Papers". It was a success and was followed by more novels: "Oliver Twist" (1837), "Nicholas Nickleby" (1838-39) and "Barnaby Rudge" (1841). He traveled to America later that year and aroused the hostility of the American press by supporting the abolitionist (anti-slavery) movement. In 1858 he divorced his wife Catherine, who had borne him ten children. During the 1840s his social criticism became more radical and his comedy more savage: novels like "David Copperfield" (1849-50), "A Tale of Two Cities" (1959) and "Great Expectations" (1860-61) only increased his fame and respect. His last novel, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", was never completed and was later published posthumously.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mattias Thuresson <mattias.thuresson@mbox300.swipnet.se>

Spouse (1)

Catherine Hogarth (2 April 1836 - 1858) ( separated) ( 10 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Liked to write about spartan London life.

Trivia (48)

Buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey, London, UK.
He was in a train accident near Staplehurst in which ten died and 49 were injured, although he came through unscathed. He was reading through the manuscript of "Our Mutual Friend" when the accident occurred, and wrote a postscript which he added to that book about the accident. He died on 9 June 1870, exactly five years after the accident.
Great-great-great-grandfather of Brian Forster.
He and his wife, Catherine Hogarth, had ten children: Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, born 1837; Mary Dickens, born 1838; Kate Macready Dickens, born 1839; Walter Savage Landor Dickens, born 1841; Francis Jeffrey "Frank" Dickens, born 1844; Alfred D'Orsay Tennyson Dickens, born 1845; Sydney Smith Haldimand Dickens, born 1847; Henry Fielding Dickens, born 1849; Dora Annie Dickens, born 1850; and Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, born 1852.
Great-grandfather of Monica Dickens.
Suffered from asthma. He found relief from his "chest troubles" only with opium, a popular asthma remedy of his day. Mr. Omer, one of the asthmatic characters in his autobiographical novel "David Copperfield", reflects Dickens' own suffering.
The only known statue of him is located in Philadelphia, PA. His will forbade a statue of any kind, and when one was made by admirers the family refused it. It is located in Clark Park at 43rd St. and Chester Ave. in the city's University City section. He is seen posing with a character from one of his stories, "Little Nell".
For many historians, the success of the classic story "A Christmas Carol" directly redefined the modern Western conception of Christmas and its sentiments, in effect creating the modern version of the holiday itself.
His personal experience as a labeler in a bottle factory inspired him to write a horrific scene of child labor in "Oliver Twist".
Is often said to have been paid by the word, but this is untrue. For his serialized works, he was paid by the installment.
Visited America in 1842, where he was greatly acclaimed.
Was greatly admired by Queen Victoria, as well as by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Owned a pet raven named Grip. He introduced the loquacious raven into his serialized mystery novel "Barnaby Rudge" (1841). Edgar Allan Poe, who would later meet Dickens when he traveled to America, reviewed "Barnaby Rudge" and commented on the use of the talking raven, saying the bird should have loomed larger in the plot. Literary experts surmise that the talking raven of "Barnaby Rudge" inspired Poe's most famous poem, "The Raven", published in 1845. After Grip died in 1841, Dickens had the bird mounted. It now resides at the Free Library on Logan Circle in Philadelphia, PA.
Wrote four more novellas with a Christmas theme after the great success of "A Christmas Carol", which was published in 1843: "The Chimes," "The Cricket on the Hearth," "The Battle of Life" and "The Haunted Man.".
Great-great-great-grandfather of Harry Lloyd.
His wish was to be buried in the English county of Kent but public demand led to his final resting place being in Westminster Abbey, London, England.
His play, "Great Expectations" at the Strawdog Theatre Ensemble in Chicago, IL, was nominated for a 2014 Joseph Jefferson Non-Equity Award for Play Production.
Is said to have been inspired to create possibly his most famous character Ebenezer Scrooge by 18th-century MP John Elwes. At one point Elwes was worth 800,000 pounds (about $100 million in 2010 money). Despite being set for life, he refused to spend a penny on luxuries like candles, a fireplace, or a roof for his bedroom (to the horror of relatives visiting when it rained). He even refused to buy clothes regularly and often wore ones that had been discarded by the homeless. Unlike Scrooge, Elwes was known for being extremely generous with his money, often loaning it to friends and never asking for it back unless they volunteered it.
In 1857 he fell in love with actress Ellen Ternan (1839-1914). She became his mistress, and in 1858 he divorced his wife to settle with Ternan. The relationship lasted until his death in 1870, though they never married. He kept this relationship secret from the public, fearing that it would ruin his reputation, since in conservative Victorian Britain it was considered a scandal to divorce your wife.
Among his sisters-in-law, he was particularly close to teenager Mary Hogarth. In 1837 she died in his arms following a brief illness. His shock and grief caused him to stop writing for over a month, missing deadlines for a number of ongoing works.
As a child he was interested in literature and spent much of his free time reading. His favorite writers were Daniel Defoe (c. 1660-1731), Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747), Henry Fielding (1707-1754), Tobias Smollett (1721-71) and Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821). Most of them were writing picaresque novels, a genre that features roguish heroes of low social class who have to survive by their wits in a corrupt society. These writers are considered to have had an influence on his own work.
In the 1850s he started a fund-raising campaign to rescue the Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children's hospital, from closing. It was a great success, with Dickens securing over 3,000 pounds for the hospital.
In the late 1840s he Dickens had legal problems with fellow writer and former friend Thomas Powell (1809-87). Powell had fled the UK following a scandal involving forgery, embezzlement and fraud. He settled in the US and started publishing works concerning the personal and professional lives of 38 British writers, including Dickens. Dickens tried to publicly expose Powell as a criminal and Powell in turn accused him of slander and defamation. The case was settled out of court.
In 1862 he was offered 10,000 pounds to go on a reading tour of Australia. He was enthusiastic and even planned to write a book about his experiences there, but eventually turned down the offer. He was 50 years old and feared the consequences of a long journey by sea.
He wrote and published 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and a number of non-fiction works.
Most of of his novels were written in an episodic manner, reflecting their publication as serial fiction. Their chapters often ended in cliff-hangers, to ensure that the readers would buy the next chapter to learn what happened to their favorite characters.
In 1856 he was able to buy Gads Hill Place, a mansion in in Higham, Kent. As a child he had admired this mansion and dreamed of owning it. His father told him that if he worked hard enough, one day he would own it. By the 1850s he was finally wealthy enough to fulfill his childhood dream. He continued living and writing in this mansion until his death in 1870. He died in its dining room.
Starting in 1858, he began a series of reading tours. For about a decade he was constantly on tour, making hundreds of appearances across England, Scotland and Ireland. While the tours contributed to his fame and were profitable, they took much of his time and he spend less time writing new works. He completed only two or three novels in this period.
In the 1830s he used the pen name "Boz" and even published the work "Sketches by Boz" (1836). However, he became more famous when using his real name.
He collaborated with the illustrators of his works to create detailed portraits of his characters and settings. He felt the visual image was important to understanding his works.
From 1860-63 he found himself responsible for the care of his elderly mother Elizabeth Culliford Dickens, who had gone senile. He found her deteriorating condition to be rather troublesome and compared her to a "female Hamlet". She died in 1863.
Ellen Ternan, his mistress, came from an acting family. Her father Thomas Lawless Ternan was a professional actor, and her mother Frances Eleanor Jarman (c. 1803-73) was an internationally-famous actress. Her older sister was Frances Eleanor Trollope (married name), who performed as an actress before starting a career as a novelist. Her other sister, Maria Ternan, was also an actress, but later took up a career as a journalist.
Gads Hill Place, his main residence, has another literary connection. It is built on Gad's Hill, which was used as the setting of a scene in the theatrical play "Henry IV, Part 1" (c. 1597) by William Shakespeare (I). In the scene, character Sir John Falstaff commits highway robbery on Gad's Hill, robbing the king's exchequer (treasury). Also on Gad's Hill, Falstaff is in turn ambushed and robbed by a disguised Prince Hal (Henry V).
He and long-time mistress Ellen Ternan (1839-1914) had a great age difference. He was 45 years old when the affair started, while she was 18. He was old enough to be her father, and Ternan was in fact younger than some of Dickens' own children.
His burial violated his own instructions on the matter. He wanted to be buried in Rochester Cathedral, preferably in an inexpensive grave. He was instead buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. It is a location reserved for the graves and memorials of some of Britain's greatest writers, starting with the burial of Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400. Dickens' contemporaries felt that he deserved the honor.
Besides ten legitimate children, he may have had an illegitimate son by Ellen Ternan. Kate Perugini (married name), one of his daughters, claimed in an interview that she had an illegitimate half-brother who died in infancy, and that her father had kept his existence a secret. There is no other record of this child.
His novel "Oliver Twist" (1838) is considered the first novel with a child protagonist of the Victorian era.
In the 1860s he was among the early members of "The Ghost Club", a paranormal investigation and research organization. The club investigated ghosts and psychic phenomena, and managed to expose various hoaxes of the time.
In 1846 wealthy heiress Angela Burdett Coutts founded the Urania Cottage, a home for the redemption of "fallen women". The women in question would be educated and trained to become domestic servants and wives. Coutts chose Dickens to serve as the director of the Cottage. He administrated the facility from 1847-59, successfully training about 100 "fallen women".
In 1869 he was still performing in reading tours. In April of that year he suffered a stroke and the rest of the tour had to be canceled. In 1870 he felt he had recovered enough and went on a new tour, attempting to make a comeback. He only gave 12 performances, from January to March of the year. In June he suffered a second stroke. He never recovered, falling unconscious and dying the next day.
In 1860 he feared that his personal life would be exposed to the public. He had kept archives of his personal correspondence, but destroyed most of them in a bonfire. He continued the practice until his death, and some aspects of his personal life remain unknown or disputed.
In his will he left considerable sums for both his former wife Catherine Thomson Hogarth and his mistress Ellen Ternan, ensuring that both would live comfortably after his death.
While visiting the US in 1842, he discovered pirated copies of his works. He considered this a violation of copyright and a threat to his own finances. He started giving lectures on the necessity of international copyright laws. He persuaded a number of other writers to co-sign a petition to the US Congress, requesting new copyright legislation. His efforts failed and the American press was particularly hostile to his "mercenary" efforts to profit from his literary works.
He was a devout Christian, though he only wrote one overtly religious work, "The Life of Our Lord" (1849). It was a short biography of Jesus Christ. However, he also criticized aspects of organized religion, and viewed religious hypocrisy as contradictory to the true spirit of Christianity.
While publishing his serial novels, he was able to evaluate his audience's reaction to each installment, and took note of reader feedback. He modified the plot of his works and the character development according to the feedback.
From 1867-68 he went on a reading tour in the US, performing 76 readings and earning 19,000 pounds. He reportedly wanted to tour the US earlier in the decade, but the outbreak of the Civil War (1861-65) there caused it to be postponed.
Most of his works were published in monthly or weekly installments, as serial fiction. He is credited with popularizing serial fiction as a publication mode for novels. It became the main mode for novel publication during the Victorian era.
Several of his characters were based on people he knew, including his own family members, employers and acquaintances. For example, Wilkins Micawber is based on father, and Mrs. Nickleby is based on his mother.

Personal Quotes (10)

Any man may be in good spirits and good temper when he's well dressed. There ain't much credit in that.
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which of all men have some.
[on babies] Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last.
[on choice] We forge the chains we wear in life.
The life of almost any man possessing great gifts would be a sad book to himself.
[on Niagara Falls] It would be hard for a man to stand nearer to God than he does here.
I believe that Virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches as she does in purple and fine linen.
It is a melancholy truth that even great men have poor relations.
[last words, spoken to his sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth, when she recommended he lie down] On the ground?

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