Charles Dickens’s Seedy Family Life
Charles John Huffam Dickens, better known as Charles 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.
Dickens was born in the middle class, but his 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 seedy aspects of his personality.