Charles Dickens (born 7 February 1812; died 9 June 1870)
Charles Dickens was popular English author during the Victorian era, responsible for writing various well-known stories including 'A Christmas Carol', 'David Copperfield' and 'Great Expectations'.
Charles Dickens: Childhood
Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England but grew up in Bloomsbury and Chatham. His parents were John Dickens, a Navy Pay Office clerk, and Elizabeth Dickens.
As a young child, he was always reading and briefly attended private schooling until his father, mother and younger siblings were forced into debtors' prison. He stayed with various family friends after that - who he even based future characters on - and got a job at a shoe blacking factory to help release his family.
His family was released after his father received an inheritance sum from a late relative and Dickens later attended another school which he was less than fond of. He then became a junior clerk at a law firm and there learned shorthand to take on a job as a freelance reporter.
Charles Dickens: Literary career
Charles Dickens had his first story, 'A Dinner at Poplar Walk', published in London's 'Monthly Magazine' in 1833 while he was still working as a political reporter through which most of his journalism was published in the form of sketches called 'Sketches by Boz'.
Publishers Chapman and Hall subsequently asked Dickens to provide text for Robert Seymour's original illustrations in a monthly letterpress. The result was his breakthrough story 'The Pickwick Papers'.
In 1838, 'Oliver Twist' was published and became one of his most well-known works. 'Nicholas Nickleby', 'The Old Curiosity Shop' and 'Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty' soon followed as instalments in the Master Humphrey's Clock series.
1842 saw him travel over to America where he gave several lectures and campaigned against literature pirating.
The following years saw him publish 'A Christmas Carol', 'The Chimes' and 'The Cricket on the Hearth'.
Between 1846 and 1850, a significant turning point in his career occurred with the release of 'Dombey and Son' and 'David Copperfield'.
In the 1850s, 'Bleak House', 'Hard Times' and 'Little Dorrit' were all written, which was also during a period of working alongside playwright Wilkie Collins.
While working as an editor for Household Words and All the Year Round, he published the major successes, 'A Tale of Two Cities' and 'Great Expectations'.
Charles Dickens: Personal life
Charles Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth in 1836, the daughter of the Evening Chronicle editor. They subsequently had ten children and lived in Bloomsbury.
Soon, his brother Frederick and Catherine's sister Mary moved in and Charles formed a very strong bond with the latter who soon passed away.
In 1851, he and his family moved into the famous Tavistock House. He separated from his wife in 1858 after falling for Ellen Ternan, one of the actresses in a play called 'The Frozen Deep'. Their scandalous relationship was detailed in Claire Tomalin's book 'The Invisible Woman', which was later adapted to the stage in 'Little Nell' and a 2013 film directed by Ralph Fiennes.
In 1865, he was involved in a rail crash. He escaped injury but stayed with the wounded and the dying and attempted to help them before medical aid came.
In 1846, he founded Urania Cottage; a temporary home for impoverished women which he ran for ten years. His later philanthropy included raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Dickens was a Christian but disliked the idea of Catholicism and evangelicalism.
While writing his final novel 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood', Dickens, who had been ill for a long time, passed away following a stroke and he was buried in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey contrary to his wishes.