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Charles Dickens | Success story of the victorian era novelist



Charles Dickens
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Charles Dickens was an English writer and social critic. His success story is about leaving the life of misery behind and moving on with new vigor. Charles was an avid reader; he liked the books of Tobias Smollett. It wasn’t at all predictable if he was ever going to be a writer at all. But here we are reading and annotating the texts of Dickens, spending time understanding the stories written by him.

Early Life

On 7 February 1812, Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. His father, John Dickens, worked as a clerk at the Navy Pay Office. His job had regular transfers because they didn’t stay at a place for very long. In fact, Charles spent his childhood moving around to Fitzrovia, Sheerness, Chatham, and then Kent. He was having a great time; his life was easy and happy. Charles did like going outside and playing, but he also loved reading. When his father worked as a clerk, he went to private schools.

In 1822 everything changed; his life turned upside down, his dad was arrested in the case of debt. While John was locked in London prison, Charles’s mom and brother moved to London with his father. But Charles went to live with Elizabeth Roylance in Camden Town.

Charles had to drop out of school because of income issues. He worked at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse for 10 hours a day. And still, he was paid only 6 shillings for his work. When his father’s mom died, she passed on $450 as an asset, which was significant in those days. With this money, he came out of jail, and the family reunited at Mrs. Roylance’s House. But even after the reunion, Charle’s mom was hard on him. She didn’t want him to leave the bootblacking job. And this incident made him aversive towards women. Later in an interview, he said, “I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being sent back.”

He described this phase of his life as “I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!”


Charles joined the Wellington House Academy in 1825. According to him, he immediately knew it wasn’t the best school. Later in 1827, he started to work for Ellis and Blackmore, lawyers, as a junior clerk. Apart from this job, he went to theaters often, and his favorite actor was Charles Mathews.

After that, Charles left the job of clerk and took the job of a freelance reporter at Doctors’ Commons. In 1830 he Maria Beadnell, the love of his life, but they didn’t end up together because of family differences. At the age of 20, Charles didn’t know what he wanted to become, but he knew he loved fame. Later in 1833, he sent his first work, ‘A dinner at Poplar Walk,’ to Monthly Magazine, London. On the other hand, William Barrow gave him the job of a political journalist in the House of Commons. Charles wrote a book ‘The Pickwick Papers’ inspired by real-life events. This book was a hit; people started to make merchandise of the character in the book.

His novels became popular; his writings amused even the royals. Charles went to the USA for trips; he was in a great position in his life after all this misery he faced. His life incidents inspired all his works. He made ordinary people the main character of his story.

Charles kept working on his readings became famous. He earned a fortune by just reading his works to the crowd. He got what he wanted ‘fame’; it was all his. And his last words were, “On the ground.”

Charles Dickens

Personal Struggles

In 1836, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth in London. Charles’s younger brother Frederick and Catherine’s younger sister Mary moved in a year later. But Mary died in 1837 because of some illness. Charles was attached to Mary, and her death shocked him. He couldn’t write for a while.

Later, he separated from his wife Catherine in 1858 when he fell in love with Ellen Ternan. At the time of divorce, Ellen was 17 then, and Charles was 45. Also, many people called her the mistress of Dickens. Charles Dickens had a hard time being with women because of his strained relationships with his mother. But none of this fact changes that he was a heavy drinker. Many stories reveal he cheated on his wife several times. After the divorce, his wife took only one of their kids with her and left the other nine with Charles.


1835 – 1840The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Bentley’s Miscellany, Nicholas Nickleby,  
1840 – 1845The Old Curiosity Shop,  Barnaby Rudge, A Christmas Carol, Martin Chuzzlewit,  The Chimes,
1845- 1850The Cricket on the HearthThe Battle of Life, Dombey and SonThe Haunted Man, David Copperfield 
1850 – 1855Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit
1855 – 1860A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations
1860 – 1865Our Mutual Friend
1865 – 1870The Signal-Man, Edwin Drood  

Lesson to Learn

Charles Dickens once said, “We need never be ashamed of our tears.” Crying is considered a weak act, but significantly less people know crying helps you cope with your problems. Charles went through a lot during his childhood. Some of the incidents in his life affected him so much that he couldn’t get over them. But none of this made him feel like giving up. He wanted fame, and he got it. People with such childhood often face anxiety, self-doubt, and the fear of loss. Charles overcame all of this and fought back. No one and no problem is greater than your willpower. Fix your aim and shoot; be confident, and you won’t miss the aim.

Also Read: Tolkien | Success story of the father of modern literature

How many words did Charles Dickens invent?

256 words and phrases

What was Charles Dickens first book?

The Pickwick Papers

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