Charles Dickens was not just a great writer, but a generally good guy. He was a social critic who advocated for the poor and disadvantaged and lent his time and money to many reformist causes. His private life, however, was awkward, to say the least. He liked to present himself as a paragon of Victorian rectitude, but among other things, he not only cheated on his wife but cheated on his wife with her sisters. In their marital home. Below are thirty things about that and other lesser-known awkward and dark facts about famous people.
30. The Nineteenth Century’s Greatest Writer
Charles Dickens, in full Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812 – 1870), was the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, and one of the most successful writers of all time. A literary genius, he penned fifteen novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, and edited a weekly journal for twenty years. Fortune smiled on Dickens, and he enjoyed greater popularity in his lifetime than any other author had until then. His works, such as A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and David Copperfield, captivated readers of his era, and are still widely read today. He was not just a popular novelist, though, but was also a social critic.
Born in the middle class, Dickens’ father’s financial ineptitude flung the family headlong into poverty. When his dad was thrown into debtor’s prison, twelve-year-old Dickens dropped out of school to work in a boot-shine factory. It gave him intimate knowledge of the working-class’s problems and privations, which came through in his writings. Throughout his life, Dickens strove to present himself as a model of Victorian probity, and all in all, he was a good guy. He vigorously advocated for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms, and spoke out for the poor and marginalized. He was no plaster saint, however, and his biographers have long struggled to reconcile his decent side with some of the more awkward – or downright dark – aspects of his personality.